From Websites To 3-D Worlds: Unlock The Potential Of Immersive Web With WebGPU
This article was first published on forbes.com as part of Alexander El-Melgis membership in the Forbes Technology Council - an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.
The evolution of web technology is exciting and has been driven by the desire for more engaging and complex experiences—from simple HTML content in 2-D to more advanced WebGL experiences in 3-D. The demand for immersive 3-D experiences has been driven by trends such as gaming and the influence of younger generations. However, achieving the necessary performance and quality on mobile devices has proven challenging, making it difficult to deliver truly rich and immersive 3-D web experiences.
The Evolution Of Websites And Web Technology
The internet has evolved significantly from its early days of static HTML pages. The introduction of Adobe Flash in the late 1990s allowed developers to create more complex and interactive web experiences, but its security vulnerabilities and performance issues led to a shift toward HTML5 as the preferred standard.
Today, it is a dynamic and interactive medium that enables us to do everything from online shopping to virtual meetings and multiplayer gaming. Technologies like WebGL and WebXR enable more immersive experiences such as virtual and augmented reality on the web. This demonstrates how the web is constantly evolving to meet the demands of users and the capabilities of new technologies.
The Impact Of Mobile Devices And Gaming On Web Technology
The rising demand for 3-D experiences in web technology is fueled by the younger generation's affinity for mobile-friendly designs and gaming experiences. As mobile devices continue to dominate internet access, companies must provide mobile-friendly designs and optimizations for various devices.
3-D technologies like WebGL, Vulkan, OpenGL, Metal or DirectX 12 are instrumental in crafting engaging and immersive experiences. The use of 3-D technologies like WebGL will remain a significant trend in web development, enabling more accessible and immersive experiences for users, without the need for pricey gaming hardware or downloads.
The Advantages Of Web Applications Over Native Applications
Web technologies have many advantages over native apps. Web apps are accessible from any device with a browser and don't require downloads, making them easy to use and hassle-free. Developing and distributing web apps is also more cost-effective and efficient, allowing for easy adaptation to changing user needs and emerging technologies.
With the introduction of immersive web technologies like WebGPU, web developers now can create experiences just as engaging and immersive as native apps, closing the gap between the two. This provides businesses and developers with a more accessible and cost-effective option to reach a wider audience without the need for specialized technical expertise or a large budget.
WebGPU And The Future Of Web Technology
The recently published new web graphics API called WebGPU offers significant benefits over previous web technologies like WebGL.
According to Chrome Developers, "WebGPU is the result of a collaborative effort by the W3C's 'GPU for the Web' Community Group, which includes contributions from major companies such as Mozilla, Apple, Intel and Microsoft. After six years of development (90 contributors, 2000 commits, 3000 issues), from the initial design in 2017, the first implementation is now available in Chrome, with support for Firefox and Safari in progress."
To achieve comparable visual quality on low-end devices, pixel streaming is used today, which is a well-known technique for streaming 3-D graphics and video from a remote server to a client device. However, WebGPU offers significant advantages over pixel streaming.
Pixel streaming requires a high-speed internet connection and can result in delays and poorer graphics quality, as well as very high server costs. Especially when offering real-time web experiences to multiple users, such as metaverse platforms or virtual events where many users participate, server costs can increase dramatically.
Nevertheless, there are still limitations. WebGPU is currently only supported by the Google Chrome browser, Firefox and the experimental Safari Technology Preview version. In addition, WebGPU requires modern or up-to-date graphics hardware to make the performance really usable. It is also more complex to develop than WebGL due to its low-level nature. This can lead to longer development time and training or even costs.
That said, WebGPU has the potential to greatly enhance AR and VR experiences on the web. It enables developers to use advanced features such as ray tracing and machine learning to create more realistic and interactive virtual environments.
WebGPU will have a significant impact and contribution to the metaverse trend by enabling immersive browser-based experiences. This means that metaverse experiences are more accessible without the need to download an app or buy expensive gaming hardware. It enables easy access to and engagement with these experiences on mobile devices or other devices with web browsers.
WebGPU provides a host of thrilling opportunities for companies to deliver immersive and sophisticated 3-D experiences and services to their users and customers on mobile devices. As the number of mobile devices and AR headsets continues to rise, 3-D technology is becoming increasingly relevant. The high accessibility and easy maintainability of web technology make it an ideal platform for delivering these experiences.
Developers will find it easy to get started with these technologies by using development frameworks that already support the technology. These include smaller and larger frameworks with different features and concepts.
The evolution of web technology is driving innovation and creating new opportunities for businesses and individuals alike. With WebGPU, we can expect even more immersive and accessible browser-based applications, making high-end 3-D experiences more accessible, rich and comprehensive on any device. The future of the web is exciting, and I can't wait to see what comes next.