Mozilla touts Firefox Reality, browser built for AR/VR

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Image: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay (IDGNS)

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4 April 2018 | 0

Mozilla on Tuesday announced that it is building a browser designed especially for displaying virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content, betting that the technology will become core to the Internet.

“We believe that the future of the Web will be heavily intertwined with virtual and augmented reality, and that future will live through browsers,” asserted Sean White, Mozilla’s chief research and development officer, in a post to a company blog.

Firefox Reality, the moniker for the browser White laid out, was far from ready for end-user deployment, but was available Tuesday in developer builds, and because Mozilla is an open source developer, so was Reality’s source code. There was no hint when the browser might be polished.

“This is the first step in our long-term plan to deliver a totally new experience on an exciting new platform,” said Trevor Smith, a Mozilla reality research engineer, in a post to a different blog, signalling that there would be more to come.

The browser will be built atop the existing Firefox – which was revamped late last year into Quantum – and augmented by the team devoted to Servo, a rendering engine that Mozilla has been working on since 2013. Written with Rust, a language created by Mozilla’s research group, Servo was envisioned as a replacement for Firefox’s long-standing Gecko engine. The Servo team was recently melded with the one labeled Mixed Reality in Mozilla. “We took our existing Firefox Web technology and enhanced it with Servo, our experimental Web engine,” said Smith.

Currently, Firefox Reality runs only in developer mode on two devices, Google’s Daydream, and Samsung’s Gear VR, but Mozilla’s White promised more. “Other solutions for browsing and accessing the Web on stand-alone headsets exist, but they are closed and platform-specific… Firefox Reality will be independent and will work on a wide variety of devices and platforms.”

Mozilla has tackled other projects outside the constraints of Firefox itself, but of late, the results have been disappointing. The organisation tried its hand at creating a mobile operating system, but gave up in early 2016. A year later, it shuttered what was left of that effort – an OS aimed at connected devices. Mozilla had also started, but eventually nixed, initiatives to place advertisements within Firefox.

 

The Firefox Reality source code can be found on GitHub, and Mozilla encouraged users to follow its Mixed Reality blog, found here.

IDG News Service

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