What is WebXR, and what can it do for your business?

Build remarkable browser-based spatial experiences for XR headsets like the Apple Vision Pro, Meta Quest Pro, and more.

Intro to WebXR

As new tech like the Apple Vision Pro continues to build excitement for extended reality (XR) experiences and spatial computing, WebXR is emerging as a game-changer for businesses seeking innovative ways to engage with customers. This immersive technology, blending the virtual with the real, is redefining the boundaries of digital interaction and opening new possibilities for a variety of industries.

What is WebXR?

WebXR stands for Web Extended Reality. 

Let’s break that down a bit, starting with XR. Extended Reality (XR) is a spatial computing term that encompasses both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The “Web” of “WebXR” refers to extended reality experiences accessed on a website through a web browser. 

WebXR allows a user to visit a website, ideally through an XR headset like the Apple Vision Pro or the Meta Quest Pro, and interact with digital content in a three-dimensional space, either by augmenting the real world with virtual elements (AR) or by immersing users in a completely virtual environment (VR). 

Though today’s XR experiences are generally accessed through XR-specific applications, such as Meta’s Rec Room, WebXR allows users to enjoy extended reality experiences simply through websites on their browser. Because it’s browser-based, WebXR works across all devices and major browsers, so you don’t need to develop individual apps for each platform. WebXR isn’t limited to just XR headsets, either - it can be used to build out experiences for mobile devices with AR capabilities and can be adapted for desktop use as well. 

How To Build WebXR Experiences

If you already have a website, it will work on XR headsets. Nothing needs to be rebuilt. But it will basically be the same experience as browsing the website on your phone, tablet, or computer. 

Here’s what’s cool about WebXR. With WebXR, you can transform your website experience as little or as much as you want, from adding fun interactive 3D elements, like being able to view and manipulate a 3D model of a product, to full-blown immersive experiences, like virtual tours of a hotel room. For instance, let’s say you visit a car manufacturer’s website. Instead of just viewing videos and photos of their car, with WebXR, you could potentially see a 3D model of the car popping out from the page, grab it, scale it up, and actually sit inside it. 

So, how do you create this type of content? As you might surmise, media such as 180º/360º photos and videos, as well as 3D models and animations, will become crucial in building out XR content. From a development and design standpoint, WebXR itself is a standard for XR development, with thorough documentation that will help any dev team get started. And, as designers continue to explore and gain experience with XR, innovative new UI and UX concepts are sure to arise that will shape the standards of virtual spatial design.

What’s most exciting about WebXR is that the most interesting applications likely haven’t even been conceived yet. As it’s a cutting edge technology, with adoption growing every day, it’ll be amazing to see what emerges in the coming years. As it is, there’s already a plethora of conceptualized WebXR and XR applications that are poised to impact many industries. Let’s take a look at some ideas that have been floating around.

Revolutionizing Retail and E-Commerce with WebXR

In the retail sector, WebXR is transforming the online shopping experience. Imagine a customer browsing your online store, not just looking at pictures but actually interacting with 3D models of your products. They can see how a piece of furniture would look in their living room or how clothes would fit without ever stepping into a physical store. The IKEA Place app is an example of this in AR, where you can use your phone to virtually place furniture pieces in your home to see how they look and feel. 

WebXR takes this to the next level - instead of needing to download an app to access this functionality, you’ll be able to use tools like this straight through your browser. This and other similarly enhanced interactive experiences not only increase customer engagement and memorable brand touchpoints, but will also provide valuable insights into consumer preferences and behavior.

Transforming Real Estate and Interior Design with WebXR

WebXR can revolutionize the real estate and interior design industries by offering virtual tours of properties and spaces. While a form of this experience exists currently on many real estate websites, XR provides an unprecedented degree of immersion. Potential buyers or renters can explore properties in detail and at scale from anywhere in the world, saving time and resources for both clients and businesses. Additionally, interior designers can use WebXR to create immersive models of proposed designs, allowing clients to visualize and modify their spaces before any physical work begins.

Advancing Education and Training with WebXR

In education and training, WebXR offers new and innovative opportunities for learning. Students can take virtual field trips to historical sites, explore the human body in 3D, or conduct experiments in a safe, virtual lab environment. For professional training, WebXR provides realistic simulations for medical procedures, mechanical repairs, or emergency response drills, enhancing learning outcomes and reducing the risk associated with real-life training.

Enhancing Healthcare Services with WebXR

WebXR has significant implications for healthcare, offering innovative ways to treat patients and improve quality of care. Some examples: therapists can use XR environments for exposure therapy, helping patients confront and overcome phobias in a controlled setting, and surgeons can simulate complex procedures before performing actual surgeries, increasing precision and success rates. There’s also potential for enhanced telehealth experiences, bridging the gap between in-person and remote. We’re just scraping the surface, and it will be exciting to see what innovative use cases are in store for WebXR in healthcare.

Empowering Remote Work and Virtual Collaboration with WebXR

The rise of remote work has highlighted the need for effective virtual collaboration tools. As Meta and Apple already highlighted with their XR offerings, WebXR can create virtual workspaces where teams can collaborate as if they were in the same room. This technology can facilitate brainstorming sessions, project planning, and even virtual team-building activities, fostering a sense of connection and teamwork despite physical distance. There are also exciting possibilities for lines of work that can benefit from immersive 3D interfaces and collaboration, such as architecture, industrial design, and anything else that involves CAD modeling.

WebXR’s Impact on Tourism and Hospitality

The tourism and hospitality industry can leverage WebXR to offer immersive previews of destinations, hotels, and experiences. Prospective travelers can virtually visit a location, getting a taste of what to expect, which can significantly influence their travel decisions and build their excitement to visit.

Driving Marketing and Brand Engagement with WebXR

WebXR presents new avenues for creative marketing and brand engagement. Businesses can develop interactive advertising campaigns, product launches, or brand experiences that are not only memorable but also shareable, expanding their reach and impact. This technology enables storytelling in an immersive format, creating emotional connections with customers.

The Future of WebXR

Looking ahead, WebXR is poised to become a staple in the digital toolkit of businesses across various sectors. But to set expectations, we’re currently still in the earliest stages of this technology. The Apple Vision Pro and the Meta Quest products represent the infancy of XR, but as the technology (i.e. hardware) evolves and becomes more accessible, we can expect broader adoption and more innovative applications. In the near future, business should look to embrace WebXR, and XR in general, to not only enhance customer experiences, but also gain a competitive edge in an increasingly digital world. The potential of WebXR is vast, and its impact will doubtlessly be felt across multiple industries. It's an exciting time for businesses, developers, and consumers alike as we explore the myriad possibilities of this transformative technology.

Want to find out what WebXR can do for you? Give us a shout, we'd be happy to help.

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