Wednesday, December 7th 2016

Khronos Group Announces Open VR Standards Initiative

After putting in work in the OpenGL, WebGL, and most recently, Vulkan APIs, the technology industry consortium Khronos Group is setting its sights on the VR industry and ecosystems. Their aim: to create a "cross-vendor, royalty-free, open standard" for the VR development community. This move is an effort to prevent the VR system from fragmenting itself towards an eventual collapse, considering the multiple engines to create content, platforms to sell that content through, and a few different hardware options with casuistically different requirements and tool-sets. As a result, for a developer to support SteamVR (OpenVR), Oculus (OVR), and OSVR, it has a lot of work to do, since each platform (with its unique runtime) interfaces with the game engine in a different way. Developers must account for the intricacies of each platform during the development process.
Khronos Group's solution: to create a standard API that interfaces with all hardware APIs and takes the extra work out of the equation for developers. It looks like the implementation of a high-level API, in essence - a common programming interface that allows developers to basically "ignore" vendor and device-specifics, potentially trading higher performance for simplicity of programming. Instead of fully programming for three different platforms - such as SteamVR (OpenVR), Oculus (OVR), and OSVR - with an assortment of different game-engines and hardware specifications, developers will instead be able to use a single API that scales through all of those, with the bulk of the work being done by the API itself. This is an apparent step-back from where the industry is going, lower level and closer-to-the-metal, at least on usual graphics workloads - as Mantle, DX 12 and Vulkan attest. In reality, it might give the VR platform the glue that keeps it all a coherent whole.

Khronos said that the new standard would include "APIs for tracking of headsets, controllers, and other objects, and for easily integrating devices into a VR runtime." The Khronos Group already has a variety of key players in the VR industry onboard with the initiative - almost all the big household names are working on VR products are already involved, such as Oculus, Valve, Google, Razer, Sensics, AMD, Nvidia, ARM, Intel, Tobii, and more. Conspicuously absent are the likes of VR-Ready smartphone makers, which may - or may not - join the initiative in time. Also absent is Qualcomm itself - the company that powers most of the world's smartphones, and which already has in place a Snapdragon VR820 reference platform.

Though still in a "initial exploratory phase", and yet trying to "define the standard's scope and key objectives", this is indeed an initiative with merit, and which would pay to come to fruition - though considering Khronos Group's track record in delivering standards, it might take a while for it to materialize. Source: Khronos Group
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2 Comments on Khronos Group Announces Open VR Standards Initiative

#1
xkm1948
This is great news for VR tool builders.
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