The nascent VR market has more or less settled into two camps, Oculus and Vive. Four and a half if you count Oculus-powered Gear VR, Google Daydream, and Windows Mixed Reality. Needless to say, there’s a bit of fragmentation going on, especially when you factor in prices and system requirements. WebVR, and particularly Mozilla’s new Firefox Reality, promises to democratize VR by making experiences available on all VR platforms and devices. And its first actually usable application is Hubs by Mozilla, a VR chat world where you take on the appearance of a clunky, floating robot.
Technically, all you need is web browser. A standards-compliant one, of course, and preferably Firefox. That minimum requirement makes Hubs by Mozilla immediately available and accessible on Oculus, Vive, or even Daydream. In fact, you don’t even need a VR headset and can jump in. You can do so from your desktop or untethered smartphone as well, using touch gestures or keyboard to navigate.
Hubs is pretty simple as far as chat worlds go. Which isn’t surprising considering it’s still an experiment rather than a finished product. Chat is done via voice and avatar selection is pretty limited. There is no customization to speak off, but those are promised to come soon.
So why another VR chat app? Other than flexing their VR muscles, Mozilla’s VR-focused team wants to demonstrate how an open web VR platform can work, one where that doesn’t require app downloads or walled gardens. Mozilla also promises the usual privacy guarantees. How well hubs will scale, however, remains to be seen, presuming Mozilla moves this experiment to a formal product.