Virtual reality has taken socializing to new heights. Traditional video chatting with friends and colleagues has been popular for over a decade now, but it still doesn’t have that personal touch that comes from physical interaction. This is where Mozilla hopes to step in.
Mozilla Hubs allows users to create their own chatrooms and join their friends in a shared VR environment. Interaction in this VR space happens by using gestures, manipulating objects, and using microphones to talk in real time.
Social VR experiences like Facebook Spaces and AltspaceVR are already available, however, they still have some minimum hardware and compatibility requirements. Mozilla breaks the mold by announcing its own WebVR-based social experience called ‘Hubs’. With Hubs, Mozilla brings the joy of social VR to all headsets and it does so in a very user-friendly way.
Hubs – An On-the-Go Social VR Experience
Hubs is a WebVR-based social experience that removes the barriers of incompatibility between VR headsets. Moreover, it provides the ability to join or create your own chat room through a desktop browser or a mobile browser. Most importantly, if you are using a browser that supports WebVR out of the box, you can join the room without any additional downloads or software installation.
Mozilla’s chief R&D officer Sean White wrote: “Because we are using web standards (WebVR and eventually WebXR) to deliver this content, we are able to support every single Mixed Reality headset. You can enjoy this experience with advanced hardware such as an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, or you can use alternatives such as a Daydream or cardboard viewer.”
Mozilla is also planning to introduce new tools to make this social VR experience much more immersive. White said: “In the coming months we will continue to release new tools and features, as we learn together through use and iteration. This includes kits to create your own custom spaces, powerful avatar and identity options, integrations with existing communications tools, and more.”
A demo version of Mozilla Hubs is currently available at Hubs.Mozilla.com. There are no public rooms at the moment so don’t expect to mingle with strangers just yet. But, you can still generate a private instance of a room and look around. You can also invite friends to join you by sending them a link so that you can explore the room together.
This “linking” feature is by far the best aspect of Mozilla Hubs. It allows you to meet up with friends in a virtual space at the click of a button. Your friends don’t need to have any apps installed. They don’t even need to have the same type of headset as you. They simply click on the link that you provide and join the room.
To try out the demo for yourself, go to Hubs.Mozilla.com and click on the blue arrow to generate a new virtual space. Select whether or not you want to experience the space in desktop mode or VR mode and then grant the program permission to access your mic. That’s literally all there is to it.
Inviting friends is just as easy. All you need to do is share the link.
To generate the link you generate a room and then navigate to the menu. There you will see the option to “invite friends.” There will be a link there that looks just like a traditional URL address. Just copy the link and send it to your friends through your favorite text messaging app. Anyone who clicks the link will be instantly transported to your room (virtually speaking of course).
There are currently three different environments to choose from. There’s a medieval setting, a contemporary setting, and a futuristic setting. The graphics are a bit on the minimalistic side but that’s understandable given all the compatibility constraints. There’s still more than enough detail to create a sense of immersion and support the social interaction for which the software is made.
Mozilla Hubs is still under development but the possibilities are already pretty exciting. I am just waiting for the day when Hubs allows us to transport actual character faces to its social VR experiences so that I can have a live chat with all the hot chicks of VR Porn!