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Video Mozilla Project Working on Immersive Displays (Video) 47

Yes, it's 3-D, and works with the Firefox browser. But that's not all. The MozVR virtual reality system is not just for Firefox, and it can incorporate infrared and other sensors to give a more complete picture than can be derived from visible light alone. In theory, the user's (client) computer needs no special hardware beyond a decent GPU and an Oculus Rift headset. Everything else lives on a server.

Is this the future of consumer displays? Even if not, the development is fun to watch, which you can start doing at mozvr.com -- and if you're serious about learning about this project you may want to read our interview transcript in addition to watching the video, because the transcript contains additional information.

Slashdot: So Rabimba, can you explain the system that you are standing in front of here, which is a laptop with some unusual additions here?

Rabimba Karanjai: Yep. So what you see in front of you, this is an off-the-shelf Razer gaming laptop. The reason we are using that because it’s the VR which we are showing the video and everything requires a fair amount of GPU usage, and this laptop has pretty good GPU. But other than that it works on every other setup. So what you see right now is an off the shelf Oculus VR kit, this is a development kit tool. It’s is paired with some other hardware for example a Leap sensor which does something cool, which I'm going to show after a while.

So right now what you see is an immersive video where once I change the view of the Oculus VR, so you can see how it changes and you can do a 360 degree real time video of everything you see and when somebody actually wears that, what he will see is something kind of like this inside their eye. So the left eye will see that, the right eye will see this, with different angles, slight angle changes and that actually makes it much more believable that he is in the real scenario. So everything runs within the browser and we also have something called Rainbow Membrane, which is kind of a demo we are trying to show off which is a virtual room, which as you can see we have different walls and everything. Also we have Statue, which kind of looks like Lincoln. And this is I'm putting my hand, so if somebody or me wearing it, I can actually touch it, I can meddle with it and it will catch it. So that's my hand that's what I'm doing with it. So just imagine when you're wearing it and you’re doing it, you have a full immersive experience.

Now the reason we're doing this and as part of Mozilla is that we're trying to lower the barrier of entry for web developers or other developers, so that they can try the VR content and they can generate more virtual reality content, just not without learning much or without learning curve. So right now this is running a nightly build of Firefox and you can actually right now go to mozvr.com, and even try this on. We have GitHub with all these demos, you can try it on your own machine if you have the Oculus VR. So this is like building block of the demo where people can just get the code and try hacking on, and start building stuff on it. So why we are actually concentrating much more on this, because we see vast potential on it.

So when you have just imagine a game, a virtual reality game, for example how famous Minecraft is. Now imagine someone actually wearing this and building the Minecraft blocks with their hand or imagine an AutoCAD engineer or civil engineer actually building this, like okay, this is how my bridge is going to be, he can actually do that. So all those science fiction stuff, they can actually start building that with off-the-shelf hardware with no extra specialized hardware builds. Everything in the browser using JavaScript API, you can interact with that. That actually lowers the barrier for web developers who can start building their contents on it.

Now for this demo, we're actually pairing the Oculus VR with the Leap Motion sensor, which tracks my hand, so those are the dots which are getting tracked and so the infrared sensors tell me that how far my hand is and based on that we can actually correlate, okay, this is how the interaction should be. Now imagine a virtual piano where with my hand if I am wearing it, I can actually do that, I can hear the sound that is much more immersive. So one of the use cases we actually thought about it is was just imagine a virtual classroom where people are from different parts of the world, they can just get in their single classroom, they can interact with each other and just imagine how immersive the Udacity or the online classrooms will be. So these are all use cases you can use this for and with no extra hardware and external things, Udacity and everything, they already have a web frontend, so they just have to plug this in so and they get going. And we are hoping the more other browsers will follow suit and they will enable this kind of technology in their own browsers.

Slashdot: Now besides the Leap Motion controller and the Oculus here, there's a camera on top, can you explain the functions that this has?

Rabimba Karanjai: So this is an Oculus camera, so this actually provides us the distance what we are from the place. So once if I am here and if I’m in the far place, it actually helps it to build a room, so that it knows okay, this is – he – that person is that far from the room. So when I'm putting my hand it knows, okay, from which depth actually to touch. For example, if you see this demo, my hand is still in the front, but it’s still not touching it, but when I put it forward, so this sense of like how far is it, we're getting it from that. So we are pairing all these sensors and getting the data and the application is building the whole virtual reality environment for you.

Slashdot: Now besides the browser itself and JavaScript, are there other software components that are important here?

Rabimba Karanjai: There are. So we're interacting with this Oculus Rift and Leap Motion sensor using their own hardware – I mean own driver software. So that is everything is already installed. So when I'm running this what happens in the background is that this is a server, which I actually ran before running it. Since everything is on my local host for this demo, so this is just a web server; it creates a server and everything goes inside that, that will not be required for web developers because they will put it in the web, so this will be handled by the server on the back end. But yeah, there are no other requirements. The only requirement which will be how the browser interacts with the device driver in the software. For that we already have something called VR Extension which is already enabled in the browser, but if you go to mozvr.com and you'll get like complete instruction that, okay, download this Nightly and enable this extension, so you can either download and add-on enable that extension or you can just go to about.config and enable the experimental extensions. So once it's out of the experimental stage, goes out from Nightly to Beta and then goes out to Stable then people don't have to do any of these.

Slashdot: So somebody who already has the Oculus Rift and the attendant drivers and the Leap Motion, there's no closed source software that needs to be involved here for someone to start developing?

Rabimba Karanjai: He can. So if somebody already has Oculus Rift and the device drivers obviously will come with that, he can actually just go to mozvr.com, download this Firefox build, after that he can see – so we have a GitHub page where we all the demos we’re showing today, with source code is available, so he can just download it, we have readme instructions like how to actually deploy this server in your own machine so that you have a build almost ready. So everything I have set up in this machine, he can set up in his own and he can start playing. So he can play with the demos immediately and then when he starts okay, now maybe I'll start tinkering with it, these are the building blocks, right, so he from the demo, he can see that okay, if I want to interact so how the – like interaction code is working, so how we're calculating the distance and everything. So he can take that and start building blocks, okay, so this is how I'm going to build my own app so.

Slashdot: Are any of your demos games?

Rabimba Karanjai: Not here, but we have web peer games on our other booth, so they're doing games but not with Oculus Rift, and this is the closest to the game I have because this involves interaction, but yeah not a full blown game anymore. So just an interaction based game. We don't have a game. Probably we should have for future demos.

Slashdot: Probably by this time next year there will be.

Rabimba Karanjai: Yeah, maybe.

Slashdot: Alright. Okay. Thanks very much.

Rabimba Karanjai: Thank you.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mozilla Project Working on Immersive Displays (Video)

Comments Filter:
  • New UI? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @05:38PM (#50439729)

    Hot damn! Does this mean that Firefox is finally getting a new UI? The current one is so last week.

  • But can you making a fucking browser that isn't bloated and runs faster than Chrome?

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      They've already done that.

      • Yes they did, at the beginning. And then the bloat crawled back in and this research about immersive displays just proves it.
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          Nonsense.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Sorry, son, you're the one who's full of shit in this matter.

            Firefox's share of the market is plummeting [caniuse.com] because people are unhappy with it. It's likely under 10% at this point, across all platforms. IE 11 and Safari for iOS each almost have more users than Firefox does in total. Chrome for Android has far more. Even Opera Mini almost has as many users as Firefox does!

            Fuck, even Mozilla's own Firefox satisfaction numbers [mozilla.org] show that its users don't like it. Over 80% of Firefox users are unhappy with it! That'

            • You don't really think they are going to acknowledge their problems do you? It's easier to just keep the blinders on and say "the only things that matter are the things we say matter". Yes their marketshare is in the toilet, yes their own satisfaction numbers confirm people don't like it but they will just point to the strong points that nobody cares about and call all criticism "nonsense" instead. User-hostile companies like that deserve to die the slow death that Mozilla is dying unless they get in touch
            • Fuck, even Mozilla's own Firefox satisfaction numbers [mozilla.org] show that its users don't like it. Over 80% of Firefox users are unhappy with it! That's an unbelievably bad rating, regardless of product and industry. Even the most despised politicians rarely see such poor satisfaction levels.

              Holy fsck, I don't know how mutable the figures on that link are but when I looked just now it was 89% dissatisfaction (7-day average). That's... astounding, I knew people are pissed off at it (put me firmly in the 89% bracket) but if you're in charge of a project where nearly 90% of your users think you're doing a crap job, then you need to be fired and replaced by someone who can move the project forward. Or, better yet, killed and eaten to prevent you from passing on the genes.

          • Nonsense to your nonsense. nahnahnahnah.

            Great technical debate we've had here. But your argument fails on ... .well content. In the mean time I'm going to keep using Chrome. I try every new Firefox release when it comes out to see if it's bearable but ultimately it fails on UI responsiveness to the point of frustration.

            • by narcc ( 412956 )

              Odd, I've had the same experience, but with Chrome.

              Ignoring subjective experience for the moment, the question was to how bloated and performant each was in relation to the other. In that case, the victor is clear [itpro.co.uk]. I'll put hard data ahead of wishes and good feelings any day.

              But your argument fails on ... .well content.

              I thought it was fair. His comment was nonsense. Quibble if you want, that's fine, but keep in mind that WebVR is not only included in FF Nightly, but Chrome experimental builds as well. Not only is his point irrelevant, it's meaning

      • How is multi thread and multi process support going? Do I still have to enable this beta feature through about:config?

  • Call me an old onion-belt but I just don't get it. How is waving my hands around like an idiot in front of my computer... how is that immersive? VR, I understand. A wearable display, that's immersive because I'm not looking at everything else in the room. Hand tracking, that's immersive because it replaces typing with more natural movement. But none of that works without a full VR system. Put hand tracking on a normal laptop or desktop and you have yet another input device doomed to failure because it does
  • by kbg ( 241421 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @07:38PM (#50440453)

    Fix the damn fucking browser first, before doing any pet projects.

  • Seriously.

    If Mozilla wants to do other projects, GREAT.

    But stop trying to fold in every half-assed pseudo-plugin into the browser! Allow people the ability to install AT WILL, rather than forcing people to fuck around with your buggy, unstable alpha code!

    This is why Mozilla was born in the first place! Bloat in Netscape!

    And, while you're at it, get someone developing Mozilla who actually BELIEVES in developing Mozilla. Not re-jiggering Mozilla to look and act like Chrome because you've got a hard-on for

    • Damn I wish I had mod points to mod stuff like this up. Everone involved in (mis-)managing Mozilla should be required to read the contents of this discussion (although I doubt it'll help, sigh).
  • I can't watch this video in Firefox.

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      It works find in FireFox. Considering it's a flash video, I'd say the problem is on your end.

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