Yesterday at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, US-based non-profit consortium Khronos Group revealed the name of its Virtual Reality Initiative announced in December 2016. The proposed standard will be called OpenXR, and the idea behind the open consortium is to allow VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) hardware and software developers to work together and steer these industries into an open, standardized future.
Khronos Group is the same consortium responsible for standards like OpenGL, as well as the creation of the new Vulkan API which continues to be adopted by an increasing number of game studios. With the rise of virtual reality technologies and an increasing number of hardware developers, Khronos Group began working together with various leaders in the VR industry in order to create an open standard for VR and AR applications and devices. The standard has been named OpenXR, and the project is backed by big industry names including AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, ARM, MediaTek, Google, Samsung, LG, Oculus, Razer, Valve, and Sony Interactive Entertainment just to name a few. The OpenXR standard consists of two parts, namely an Application Interface and a Device Layer. The former will help application developers to create products compatible with a variety of hardware platforms, and the latter is designed for hardware developers to ensure compatibility with various elements in the Application Interface.
Khronos Group believes that standardization is vital for the future of the VR and AR markets, especially as the number of companies involved in developing VR and AR hardware is on the rise. A large number of non-standardized platforms can alienate application developers who may not be willing to code programs for certain ecosystems, and in turn, this can hurt consumers who may be left with too many watered-down choices unable to tick all their boxes. However, the OpenXR standard aims to expand compatibility of applications across different VR and AR products, and Khronos Group invites any interested companies to join the consortium and get involved in the standardization of the VR and AR industries. The group was unable to reveal an exact launch date for the OpenXR standard but confirmed that the consortium is working to making OpenXR available in VR devices before 2018.