The socially networked web is frightening enough, but maybe chatting with some friendly robots will ease the tension.
Today, Mozilla showed off a preview of Hubs, a dead-simple social WebVR experience that users can dive into with a couple of clicks, share a URL and meet up with other people across platforms, including mobile, desktop and VR.
It’s not Second Life, or even Facebook Spaces; it’s pretty low-key. You’re just a humble robot hanging with other robots who are hopefully your friends.
It’s admittedly kind of hilarious how childish so many of these social apps for VR look right now. It’s pretty much due to the marriage of PS1-level graphics and a Club Penguin social schema. The thing that’s really being tested here isn’t a lifelike approach to detail or nifty interface cues, it’s the bare-bones simplicity of getting people into a social environment together and facilitating connections.
The broader issues that Mozilla is tackling here are the same ones others are, though Mozilla is starting its efforts with a heavy approach to cross-platform compatibility by building Hubs entirely on WebVR. Mozilla says Hubs has support for all of the major VR headsets out now. Having the web as the backbone for the service is something that’s easy to take for granted, but with most social VR experiences requiring app stores and downloads, the idea of using a URL to dive into a social environment is oddly unique.
Even when compared to VR itself, WebVR is in its earliest stages, but Mozilla is continuing to experiment and attract other developers to it. This is just a preview of Hubs; the company has plans to bring some new avatar systems and tools for developing custom spaces inside it soon.