Virtual Reality Browser

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Browsing the web just by clicking a mouse is so 2015. It's the new year now, and to go along with that, zSpace has come up with a new way to browse the web: via virtual reality. The browser is simply called zBrowser, and it's designed specifically for zSpace's new line of all-in-one VR computers, which have so far largely been deployed in schools for educational purposes.
These unique Windows PCs come with high-speed head-tracking, a pair of special AR/VR glasses (or clip-ons if you already wear glasses) plus a "virtual reality stylus," which lets you control what's on screen by hovering it above the display. The browser, as you might expect, operates in much the same way.

Built in partnership with Google's Chrome WebGL team, the new zSpace zBrowser lets you really interact with the web. Instead of a simple flat webpage, for example, the zBrowser lets you select certain images and manipulate them around. The creator of the webpage (or a piece of web content) just has to put a bit of code that prompts it to recognize when it's being viewed through the zBrowser.
I had the chance to try it out for a bit and found it incredibly fascinating. Just by browsing someone's Facebook page, for example, I could select a photo of the Taj Mahal and basically turn it into a three-dimensional image. When browsing an encyclopedia page about a brain tumor, I was able to click on a graphic of a brain tumor and "pull" it out from the page, rotating it around to get a better look at it.

But what really impressed me was when browsing through a mock Amazon page. I was able to click "classify" on a photo of a watch and then virtually swap watchbands and watchfaces, while rotating it around in three dimensions. Dave Chavez, zSpace's CTO, tells me that in the future, we'll all be able to shop online this way.

Right now, the zSpace VR computer is only in schools or places of higher education. But later this year, Chavez said he's hoping to sell it for around $1,500 for the regular consumer. "ZSpace is tabletop VR," said Chavez. "It'll completely redefine how you browse the web."
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