Universalizing the VR Experience - A Web Approach

VR technology has grown immensely in the last few years, yet the great majority of people have not experienced it. One reason is that the software is too specialized and the hardware is prohibitively costly. This Bachelor Thesis investigates the feasibility of web-based VR applications in combination with accessible smartphone VR devices. This contributes to the question of how universally accessible can VR applications be to individuals. As the subject of the web-based VR application a simple chess game was chosen, which includes a single-player (AI) and a multiplayer mode. To control individual pieces you can either choose between voice commands or a gaze pointer. As lense gears, two low-tech head-mounted devices (HMD), the Zeiss VR One Plus and the Google Cardboard V2 are tested. These HMDs were combined with two different smartphones, the Google Pixel 6 (2021) and the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016). This broad array of devices accommodates old and modern smartphones, as well as cheap and more expensive HMDs, thus representing the equipment of the broader public. First, the thesis describes extensively the game development process, as this app was written from scratch. Second, the game performance is taken into account, which is measured by the loading times, the video quality, and the influences the hardware and different 3D resources can have on these factors. Finally, it is evaluated how much impact the combination of the hardware has on these more novel web VR approaches. All together newer smartphones, like the Google Pixel 6 perform the best in these quality points, and in combination with not too complex meshes in the 3D scene, the VR browser chess is offering a satisfying user experience, especially with the multiplayer attribute. However, some weaker hardware devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy A5 lack computation power to accommodate the profound rendering. Thus web-VR is a promising technology branch, which in theory everybody could experience with little money, nonetheless, some smartphones are exempted from an immersive experience. Based on the recognitions gained in this thesis, investigations on the user experience of web-based VR applications in combination with smartphone HMD devices can be conducted with actual person studies. Additionally, the program can be extended to make use of the camera and perform eye-tracking studies or realize hand-tracking. These features would allow the user to actually interact physically with the VR application and thus realize a novel, truly XR, low-tech web application.