My last Story about my 2020 predictions for AR and VR received a lot of traction. With CES having ended and my first few predictions coming true, plus a ton of requests to provide my thoughts on other technologies I left out, I’ve decided to do a follow up Story. Previously, I’d only mentioned things that I felt 70% confident as going to happen. This leaves out a lot of the more interesting predictions I have however, and so for this Story, I’m going to mention anything that I am more than 50% confident on happening. Once again, do not take this as an absolute, as I plan for many of these to be incorrect still. That said, I still rely on these for where my technological attention for development goes, and hope these help others decide what to work on as well!
WebXR technologies encompass two main areas today: WebAR for augmented reality, and WebVR for virtual reality. WebXR allows for the use of both of these technologies on the web. These technologies have been around for quite some time, but really saw some big gains in their feasibility thanks to the Oculus Quest and improvements to ARCore and ARKit in 2019. While the technologies will continue to improve in 2020 (obviously), I’m pretty pessimistic about the technology overall. WebXR can do some incredible things, and you can create some amazing experiences in it, but there’s two key problems that will prevent it from being completely worthwhile in 2020 in my opinion.
First off, there’s the difficulty of using these technologies. There are many tools that are aspiring to fix this, like 8th Wall which has one of the best demos I’ve seen to date for augmented reality in a web browser. However, consider this: How do I go about using 8th Wall’s technology? Clicking their sign-up button as of this post takes me to a page where I need to give them a bunch of information, then hope that I am given access to the tools, after which there’s a publishing process where I must pay to release my application. Why would I do this for the small percentage of users who would actually load up my website in AR? Even with VR support, this is a tiny userbase, and while their tools sound cool, it’s too costly for such a small purpose. Tools like A-Frame are free and easier to access, but still require a lot of work to do anything of interest in them. WebXR…