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This is an experimental technology
Because this technology's specification has not stabilized, check the compatibility table for usage in various browsers. Also note that the syntax and behavior of an experimental technology is subject to change in future versions of browsers as the specification changes.

WebVR provides support for exposing virtual reality devices — for example head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — to web apps, enabling developers to translate position and movement information from the display into movement around a 3D scene. This has numerous very interesting applications, from virtual product tours and interactive training apps to immersive first person games.

Concepts and usage

Any VR devices attached to your computer will be returned by the Navigator.getVRDisplays() method; each one will be represented by a VRDisplay object.

Sketch of a person in a chair with wearing goggles labelled "Head mounted display (HMD)" facing a monitor with a webcam labelled "Position sensor"

VRDisplay is the central interface in the WebVR API — via its properties and methods you can access functionality to:

  • Retrieve useful information to allow us to identify the display, what capabilities it has, controllers associated with it, and more.
  • Retrieve frame data for each frame of content you you want to present in a display, and submit those frames for display at a consistent rate.
  • Start and stop presenting to the display.

A typical (simple) WebVR app would work like so:

  1. Navigator.getVRDisplays() is used to get a reference to your VR display.
  2. VRDisplay.requestPresent() is used to start presenting to the VR display.
  3. WebVR's dedicated VRDisplay.requestAnimationFrame() method is used to run the app's rendering loop at the correct refresh rate for the display.
  4. Inside the rendering loop, you grab the data required to display the current frame (VRDisplay.getFrameData()), draw the displayed scene twice — once for the view in each eye, then submit the rendered view to the display to show to the user (VRDisplay.submitFrame()).

In addition, WebVR 1.1 adds a number of events on the Window object to allow JavaScript to respond to changes to the status of the display.

Note: You can find a lot more out about how the API works in our Using the WebVR API and WebVR Concepts articles.

Using controllers: Combining WebVR with the Gamepad API

Many WebVR hardware setups feature controllers that go along with the headset. These can be used in WebVR apps via the Gamepad API, and specifically the Gamepad Extensions API that adds API features for accessing controller pose, haptic actuators, and more.

Note: Our Using VR controllers with WebVR article explains the basics of how to use VR controllers with WebVR apps.

WebVR Interfaces

VRDisplay
Represents any VR device supported by this API. It includes generic information such as device IDs and descriptions, as well as methods for starting to present a VR scene, retrieving eye parameters and display capabilities, and other important functionality.
VRDisplayCapabilities
Describes the capabilities of a VRDisplay — it's features can be used to perform VR device capability tests, for example can it return position information.
VRDisplayEvent
Represents the event object of WebVR-related events (see the window object extensions listed below).
VRFrameData
Represents all the information needed to render a single frame of a VR scene; constructed by VRDisplay.getFrameData().
VRPose
Represents the position state at a given timestamp (which includes orientation, position, velocity, and acceleration.)
VREyeParameters
Provides access to all the information required to correctly render a scene for each given eye, including field of view information.
VRFieldOfView
Represents a field of view defined by 4 different degree values describing the view from a center point.
VRLayerInit
Represents a layer to be presented in a VRDisplay.
VRStageParameters
Represents the values describing the the stage area for devices that support room-scale experiences.

Extensions to other interfaces

The WebVR API extends the following APIs, adding the listed features.

Gamepad

Gamepad.displayId Read only
Returns the VRDisplay.displayId of the associated VRDisplay — the VRDisplay that the gamepad is controlling the displayed scene of.
Navigator.activeVRDisplays Read only
Returns an array containing every VRDisplay object that is currently presenting (VRDisplay.ispresenting is true).
Navigator.getVRDisplays()
Returns a promise that resolves to an array of VRDisplay objects representing any available VR displays connected to the computer.

Window events

Window.onvrdisplaypresentchange
Represents an event handler that will run when the presenting state of a VR display changes — i.e. goes from presenting to not presenting, or vice versa (when the vrdisplaypresentchange event fires).
Window.onvrdisplayconnect
Represents an event handler that will run when a compatible VR display has been connected to the computer (when the vrdisplayconnect event fires).
Window.onvrdisplaydisconnect
Represents an event handler that will run when a compatible VR display has been disconnected from the computer (when the vrdisplaydisconnect event fires).
Window.onvrdisplayactivate
Represents an event handler that will run when a display is able to be presented to (when the vrdisplayactivate event fires), for example if an HMD has been moved to bring it out of standby, or woken up by being put on.
Window.onvrdisplaydeactivate
Represents an event handler that will run when a display can no longer be presented to (when the vrdisplaydeactivate event fires), for example if an HMD has gone into standby or sleep mode due to a period of inactivity.

Unimplemented window events

The following events are listed in the spec, but do not currently seem to be implemented anywhere as yet.

Window.onvrdisplayblur
Represents an event handler that will run when presentation to a display has been paused for some reason by the browser, OS, or VR hardware (when the vrdisplayblur event fires) — for example, while the user is interacting with a system menu or browser, to prevent tracking or loss of experience.
Window.onvrdisplayfocus
Represents an event handler that will run when presentation to a display has resumed after being blurred (when the vrdisplayfocus event fires).

Examples

You can find a number of examples at these locations:

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Gamepad Extensions Editor's Draft Defines the Experimental Gamepad extensions.
WebVR 1.1 Editor's Draft Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Edge Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari (WebKit)
Basic support No support[1] (Yes) 55 (55)[2] No support No support No support
Gamepad extensions No support No support No support[4] No support No support No support
Feature Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile Chrome for Android Samsung Internet for GearVR
Basic support No support No support 55.0 (55) No support No support No support (Yes)[3] (Yes)
 
Gamepad extensions No support No support No support[4] No support No support No support No support No support

[1] API Available on all platforms behind a flag, but currently only works on desktop in an experimental version of Chrome (other builds won't return any devices when Navigator.getVRDisplays() is invoked).

[2] Currently only Windows support is enabled by default. Mac support is available in Firefox Nightly.

[3] Currently supported only by Google Daydream.

[4] Enabled in Firefox Nightly and Beta, versions 55 and above. Enabled/disabled by the dom.gamepad-extensions.enabled pref.

See also

  • vr.mozilla.org — The main Mozilla landing pad for WebVR, with demos, utilities, and other information.
  • A-Frame — Open source web framework for building VR experiences.
  • webvr.info — Up-to-date information about WebVR, browser setup, and community.
  • MozVr.com — Demos, downloads, and other resources from the Mozilla VR team.
  • threejs-vr-boilerplate — A useful starter template for writing WebVR apps into.
  • Web VR polyfill — JavaScript implementation of WebVR.

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,