The WebXR Design Summit Takes Place on October 12th, 2021

WebXR is an evolving group of standards which are used together to support rendering 3D scenes to hardware designed for presenting virtual worlds (virtual reality, or VR), or for adding graphical imagery to the real world, (augmented reality, or AR). On Tuesday, October 12th, 2021, the well-known Voices of VR podcaster Kent Bye will be the host of a daylong WebXR Design Summit (tickets are free via EventBrite).

This event is described by the organizers as follows:

The world’s WebXR experts, 3D designers, and marketers will share design principles and best practices for immersive technologies. In order to reap the benefits of WebXR, professionals need to know how to create content for the medium, and the Design Summit will show the way. 

Spatial design is still new. Attendees at the summit will learn key tools, design considerations for 3D, and spatial thinking. Attendees will hear about WebXR success stories, common pitfalls to avoid, and design tips.

Please see this 22-tweet Twitter thread for details on the various presentations and panel discussions taking place. I see a lot of familiar names from the metaverse! It promises to be an interesting, inspiring, and educational event, and best of all, it’s free! You can follow the WebXR Summit organizers on Twitter.

The WebXR Business Summit and WebXR Design Summit Are Looking for Speakers

Ben Erwin is one of the people working on the excellent resource guide for VR/AR/XR collaborative platforms, XR Collaboration, which describes itself as “an interactive and comprehensive online tool that helps companies utilize XR collaboration and remote work tools for businesses”. He’s also an entrepreneur who is working on a series of three WebXR Summits, the first of which (the WebXR Development Summit) was held on May 25th, 2021. Kent Bye gives a great overview of what happened at that first summit in a marathon series of tweets, which you can read here, complete to links to the proceedings if you missed it.

What is WebXR? It’s an API (short for Application Programming Interface, that is, a set of functions and procedures allowing the creation of applications) which provides the functionality needed to develop and host VR and AR experiences on the web. (If you want to get into the nitty gritty details, here ya go.) People are excited about WebXR because it provides a standard way to deliver content, with the goal of supporting every possible device, scaling to make use of the hardware that is available to you!

I volunteered to help Ben Erwin get the word out; he’s interested in connecting with folks with specific business and design angles on the immersive web. Here are more details on the next two planned WebXR summits, where he is looking for speakers:

If you have expertise in these areas and you want to help with the Summits, please contact Ben via his LinkedIn profile. Thanks!

What Drives People to Build an Open Metaverse?

Did you know that you can help support my blog (as well as the Metaverse Newscast show), and get great rewards in return? Here’s how.

One of the many people who participate in the discussions on the Discord server is Jin, who is a passionate proponent of social VR platforms built on open, interoperable standards.

Jin has written up a document where he describes why he is so motivated to build an open metaverse. I strongly urge you to go over and read the entire thing yourself, but I will quote a few parts here:

We’re close to arriving into that universe of a massive, persistent, digital spatial reality adjacent to our own. These books have always inspired us from the beginning, it’s time now.

In these books the characters live a dual life between the physical and the virtual world. Ready Player One in particular has a pretty dystopian take on this potential future where their version of cyberspace is largely built and owned by a single company… We can not allow so much power to be in the hands of one company, especially with a medium like VR/AR which hoovers up more data about our surroundings, actions, and reactions to sensory information than any other technology before it. For this reason, Building the Open Metaverse is a Moral Imperative.

Jin takes a look at the current technology landscape, and there is plenty of gloomy news:

  • Five large companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) are accumulating more and more control over people’s data.
  • Over half of all gaming titles and 60% of VR/AR experiences are made with Unity3D, a non-free gaming engine. 
  • High Fidelity and Decentraland absorbed 99% of venture capital funding for open source social VR. Decentraland has shelved VR support after seeing High Fidelity falter in its rollout.

But there are also some bright spots appearing on the horizon, as people create tools to support the building of an open metaverse:

  • WebXR, a device API specification for accessing VR and AR devices, that will evolve a metaverse from individual creators creating experiences that interoperate with other experiences
  • Exokit, a native 3D XR web engine which runs regular HTML+JS WebXR sites
  • Open source protocols: IPFS and Dat
  • Open source XR frameworks: Aframe / BabylonJS / JanusWeb
  • Open source compositors: Exokit and XRdesktop
  • Open source browsers: Janus / Firefox Reality
  • Filecoin, a decentralized storage network
  • Blockchain initiatives such as BitcoinEthereum, and EOS

As I said, it’s worth going over to Jin’s article to read the whole thing. He raises a lot of different issues relating to the open metaverse and the challenges that the endeavour faces. He concludes by saying:

Keeping the web open and free is the fight of our lifetime. I’ve given the past 6 of my best years to researching and building a decentralized metaverse because freedom f*cking matters. Nobody owns the internet or web, it just exists which is why they serve as an excellent foundation for spatial computing.

My hope is that together we can find a way to sustain development, through patronage or ethical monetization schemes, so that our work can reach and liberate the masses.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Thanks to Jin for writing this article! It is inspiring to see so much work being done in these areas. It will be an uphill battle, but a battle worth fighting, nonetheless.