'

Mozilla: We're building a new Firefox browser for VR and AR headsets

The Firefox Reality browser will run on augmented and virtual reality headsets.

Video: How Mozilla plans to win back Firefox users

Mozilla has revealed that it is developing a web browser to work with standalone virtual and augmented reality headsets.

The open-source software company said its 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 standalone headsets, these are closed and platform-specific. It wants Firefox Reality to run on a variety of devices and platforms and because the new browser -- like Firefox -- will be open source, it will make it easier for manufacturers to add the browser to their platform, and provides an additional level of transparency for users.

Read also: What HoloLens means for Microsoft and for the future of augmented reality

AR and VR are still at an early stage but there's every indication that they will offer an even more intimate and immersive experience than browsing the web. As a result, VR and AR are very likely to throw up new and difficult questions about privacy. Mozilla said its new browser will build on the permissions model of the web platform, "which provides even more protection than native apps provide".

firefox-reality.png

Mozilla is building a version of Firefox for VR headsets.

Image: Mozilla

Mozilla said that right now mixed reality is the wild west, with big questions unresolved ranging from how you type in VR to how do you express emotion, or view the billions of existing 2D web pages as well as new 3D content. And, at a more profound level, there are still unresolved questions about how to stop VR and AR content becoming shut away in walled gardens.

Developers can build for GearVR, Oculus Go, Qualcomm, ODG glasses, and the Vive Focus, and, during its initial development, the source code for Firefox Reality will also run in developer mode on Daydream and GearVR devices. Mozilla has released source code and developer builds but notes the project is at an early stage: "We have a long way to go before this project can be considered a 'full-featured' browser."

However, Mozilla may have plenty of time to work on the project, as it's far from clear that VR or AR are taking off right now; despite some initial excitement, there has been little take-up of the technology by consumers (business may be more interested) and limited interactive content exists for those with headsets.

Related stories

    Microsoft HoloLens, hands-on: What it's like to wear the future
    Testing out Microsoft's mixed-reality headset.

    Inside Microsoft's plan to make Windows the center of the 3D universe
    It's time for Microsoft to try to make its case as to why Windows Holographic PCs and devices will make users more productive and creative.

    Microsoft fleshes out its Windows 10 mixed-reality roadmap
    Microsoft is readying a new spec and a Windows 10 update that will allow mainstream PCs and head-mounted displays to run the Windows Holographic shell and mixed-reality applications.

    How Honeywell hopes to train tomorrow's factory workers with an AR/VR simulator based on Microsoft HoloLens (TechRepublic)
    A new AR/VR simulator from Honeywell uses Microsoft HoloLens to help train industrial employees and could even aid companies in closing the skills gap.

    Microsoft's HoloLens brings you inside a gigantic jet engine (CNET)
    Augmented reality makes a jet engine light enough to lift with a finger, and portable enough to take anywhere.