Hello and welcome, friends of the Wider Web!
This week overloaded my inbox with events and new releases but of course the biggest news of all can be summed up with this image:
The open source consultancy, Igalia, announced that they have forked the source code of Mozilla’s abandoned immersive browser, Firefox Reality, and are developing Wolvic, a new WebXR-capable browser that will run on Huawei VR Glass, HTC’s Vive Focus, Facebook’s Quest 2, Pico Interactive’s Neo 3, and (after it ships) on Lynx.
I played a small role in the creation of Firefox Reality and I have been terribly sad about its demise. Igalia has given me hope that there will be more than one immersive browser engine and that it will support a variety of XR hardware. This is a win for open source software and, I hope, for the Wider Web.
Defrag your disk, degauss your screen, and detect your viruses because it’s time for another issue of the Transmutable News Weekly!
I worked for free this week! If you value my work and want it to continue then click over to the about page for sponsorship opportunities.
The second installation of The Polys - WebXR Awards will happen this Saturday, February 12th! Last year was a ton of fun and (especially during travel restrictions) was a wonderful way to see so many faces from our community.
(disclosure: I am receiving an award but the rest of the recipients are amazing so don’t let that scare you off.)
An emerging form of organization, the Distributed Cooperative (AKA DisCO), is finding a foothold within our community in ImmersSpace, makers of a FOSS and federated social network server specifically for the Wider Web. The DisCO concept is a technology-neutral alternative to Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) which rely on blockchains.
Robert Long gave a talk at FOSDEM about their work at Element adding audio and video chat to the federated Matrix communication network and how that work can be combined with Wider Web spaces via a new project, Third Room. In that talk I also learned about bitECS, a new (and reportedly “blazing fast”) library for entity component systems.
Longtime portable digital body service provider Wolf3D released a collaboration with an early profile picture collection, CryptoPunks, to allow their NFT controllers to place their 2D profile illustration onto the face of a Ready Player Me 3D model. This morning I spoke with Wolf3D CEO Timmu Tõke and CTO Ranier Selvet about their technology stack. They currently integrate with the MetaMask wallet for the inefficient Ethereum blockchain but are planning to support the Phantom wallet to take advantage of the more energy efficient Solana blockchain. They also plan to create their own NFT collections with 3D art assets such as hats and bodies.
It feels like every week the VARTISTE team add a new feature that deserves to be here and this week was no different with Zach Capalbo’s announcement that you can now send art asserts directly from within the digital art studio to any web location, whether it’s a server that you control or another service like SketchFab. In tech terms, you can POST glTFs to any URL. Zach even created a remixable Glitch project that demonstrated how to receive the assets from VARTISTE.
The web standards community is at a bit of a crossroads as so many people who are good candidates for open web standards work are instead choosing to work on blockchain-related technologies. I wrote a brief article about the top reasons that smart people choose web3 instead of the open web.
Tom Ffiske released a new book that aims to explain The Metaverse to people who may never have worn an immersive display.
The Three.js library is great for managing 3D spaces but what really makes the pixels look good are its materials. Those materials are defined by shaders and this week Farazz Shaikh from the Poimandres open collective (also not a DAO) announced lamina, a new shader that enables composition of multiple visual effects. For example, a 3D object could mix an image texture with a flat color and a bit of noise.
The A-Frame team released version v1.3.0 which included a raft of fixes and enhancements, many of them specifically for VR and AR display modes.