With rapid evolution of technology, nothing is static and trends change faster than ever. The process of Web Development has undergone a sea change from the early days of the World Wide Web when graphics-heavy websites took ages to open, turning away browsers and losing customers. Keep it simple was the philosophy then, sacrificing slow loading visually delightful graphics in favour of simplicity with speed. But a generation later, increasing bandwidth as well as evolving digital technologies like AR and VR, especially the latest WebXR API (application programming interface), has dramatically enhanced the browsing experience. The fact that content can now be accessed through multiple devices including the smartphone, has further revolutionised Web Development in the present times.
So what is WebXR? As mentioned above, WebXR is an application programming interface or API for web content development in 3D. It supersedes the earlier WebVR API which was capable of representing only virtual reality. The XR refers to Extended Reality, which combines all real-and-virtual environments like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) computer simulations to provide 360-degree image-based, extended reality experiences that can be accessed through a web browser. As a browser-based XR, the content, thus developed, can be viewed with or without special headsets, depending on the way these have been designed for a given application. Initially popular among gaming enthusiasts and niche industry applications that necessitate the use of other devices like headsets, for 3D animations used in industrial or even commercial websites, the content can be viewed normally.
While still a nascent and evolving technology, WebXR has captured the imagination of the present generation and is one of the trends to watch out for in 2022. It has already proved to be an effective marketing tool in the social media and ecommerce space, providing an exciting avenue for digital marketers. The most significant advantage of WebXR is that it allows customers to experience the products in all dimensions, explore various applications, and interact with the bots, all this from home or any other place, without visiting a place, a showroom or an industrial plant.
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Browser-based XR has several benefits, but the most important is that it facilitates immersive experiences in the web browser, without the need for any additional hardware or software. This makes 3D animation widely accessible, creating a level playing field. Further benefits flowing from this are:
Other benefits include continuous improvement in tandem with the overall standards of the worldwide web getting better, which is happening all the time, improving the user experience. WebXR being cheaper to implement automatically lowers the entry barrier and more businesses can use it. Finally, it also reduces the development time and makes for efficient workflows and updates.
With the benefits listed in the preceding paras, it is obvious that WebXR has many benefits and hence the capacity to solve various problems. With its interoperability, WebXR opens the access to VR and AR through a regular URL, eliminating the need for apps and external devices like expensive headsets with issues of compatibility as well. This democratisation of access reduces the digital divide, solving a major problem described as ‘walled gardens’ that denied entry to many, bringing the technology to the masses.
This in turn solves the problem many enterprises faced, especially during the lockdown, of keeping their business running. WebXR created opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers. Ecommerce portals provided virtual access to shoppers to experience the products they wanted to buy without visiting the showrooms. For industrial users, WebXR offered various tools like marketing presentations, virtual trade fairs and training sessions by remote.
As stated at the very beginning, WebXR API or an application programming interface to create content for a website. This was created by the Immersive Web Community Group, with contributors from Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and others. Though this is a rather simple explanation, it facilitates creating 3D animations designed in virtual reality (VR), by adding graphical imagery to the real world, which is augmented reality, (AR). Also content creation is relatively less complicated.
More than the technicalities of how WebXR works, it is the practical aspect of the technology that makes it very useful for business. In a short time, WebXR has become very popular and has been adopted by a variety of businesses as a marketing communication tool. In the industrial context WebXR can be used in all applications like Marketing & Sales Presentations, Exhibitions & Trade Shows, Training, Installation & Commissioning, Maintenance Services and Facility Tours. These solutions can reduce costs, increase revenue and productivity, and improve customer experience. WebXR is the right communication technology for the digital era.
WebXR is a technology whose time has come and businesses should embrace it wholeheartedly. The present generation lives in the digital world and has no patience with technologies of yore. The websites of the past worked on the ‘pull’ factor to attract visitors which no longer works today. Now it is the push factor that works; a push in the face that attracts eyeballs. WebXR provides this push like no other technology. It makes the content attractive, is more informative and interactive, and gives the users the simulated experience of being there in person, to check the products and see them in action. With effective content generation and propagation through the right platforms, WebXR will be a game changer for enterprises looking to scale up their business rapidly.
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