Mozilla is building a version of Firefox for VR headsets. Mozilla has revealed that it is developing a web browser to work with stand-alone virtual and augmented reality headsets. The open-source browser maker said the new browser - Firefox Reality -- will use existing Firefox web technology combined with Servo, its experimental web engine. Mozilla said that while other options for browsing the web already exist for stand-alone headsets, these are closed and platform specific. It wants Firefox Reality to run on a variety of devices and platforms and because the browser - like Firefox - will be open source this will make it easier for manufacturers to add the browser to their platform, and provides an additional level of transparency for users.
Mozilla on Tuesday released version 1.0 of Firefox Reality, a web browser built expressly to work with standalone virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. The browser is now available in the Viveport, Oculus, and Daydream app stores. Firefox Reality enables users to move between 2D websites and immersive web experiences. As Mozilla said when it announced its work on the browser in April, the browser is open source, enabling manufacturers to add the browser to their platforms. "A desktop is a familiar experience," Dan Brown, marketing lead for emerging technologies at Mozilla, said to ZDNet.
Virtual and augmented reality hasn't taken off the way some people had hoped. Still, it's a growing market that Mozilla wants to support with a bespoke version of Firefox. The new browser, called Firefox Reality, will work on a variety of VR, AR and so-called "mixed reality" hardware. There's no word on a release date, though, or what the experience will look like. Mozilla has given a few clues, however; it will be open-source, for instance, and truly cross platform, unlike some of its rivals.
Mozilla, the creator of the Firefox web browser, told its employees on Thursday that it will be dissolving its connected devices initiative. In the process, the company will be laying off around 50 of its employees. "We have shifted our internal approach to the internet-of-things opportunity to step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products to one focused on research and advanced development, dissolving our connected devices initiative and incorporating our internet-of-things (IoT) explorations into an increased focus on emerging technologies," Mozilla said in a statement, per CNET. Mozilla's connected devices initiative was the nonprofit company's bid to expand its software to other products beyond the web browser. Part of that initiative was Firefox OS, a mobile operating system for smartphones, tablets and smart TVs designed for emerging markets.
On a Manhattan rooftop earlier this week, Mozilla previewed its newest concept, a group VR hangout service called Hubs. Unlike the virtual-reality environments shown off by Facebook and others, you don't need to sign in to a platform or use a plugin -- just click a URL and you'll be taken straight to a digital space in full VR. And since Hubs is built on WebVR, Mozilla claims you'll be able to view it on any mixed reality headset starting today. Platform agnosticism was only one part of the pitch Mozilla R&D chief Sean White gave for Hubs. Another is the ability for companies or teams to plug its tech into their projects, perhaps to add easy-to-connect VR rooms to remote co-working platforms -- but that's in the future.