Mozilla’s Hub experiment brings VR chat rooms to the online so your avatar can chill in a browser

With Hub by Mozilla, your avatar can hang out with other people in a chat room you set up. You can communicate by voice as soon as you let your browser access your microphone.


You may not remember Second Life, a virtual world where your 3D avatar can hang out, interview tech geeks, take conference calls, and sell furniture. Although interest peaked years ago, virtual reality is still around, and Mozilla has now released something of a Second Life sequel of sorts.

This time, instead of downloading and installing special software, just open a website with a PC, phone, or VR headset.

The technology called WebVR, which Mozilla pioneered, enables developers to create 3D worlds. WebVR enabled browsers and tools like Mozilla’s A-Frame make creating online fantasy spaces much easier. This new virtual world, Hubs by Mozilla, offers chat rooms with a normal web address that you can share to invite friends.

It’s just an experiment in a new way of social interaction, more aimed at showing what’s possible on the modern web than leading you to believe that the metaverse from Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel, Snow Crash “is finally here. So think of it as a demo rather than an answer to VR’s interesting problem.

Mozilla is trying to make VR a commonplace part of the web, a move that could make wrestling easier for developers to support numerous often incompatible virtual reality and augmented reality devices. Mozilla hubs include “no app downloads, walled gardens, or content gatekeepers,” said Greg Fodor, member of the Mozilla VR team, in a blog post Thursday.

Firefox, Apple’s Safari, and Google’s Chrome all support WebVR, and Microsoft has promised to integrate it with its Edge browser. Mozilla is also working on a version of Firefox specifically designed for VR headsets. Meanwhile, browser makers are working on a more powerful successor to WebVR called WebXR that supports augmented reality technology, which could have more mainstream appeal.

The smartest thing: innovators are thinking of new ways to make you and the things around you smarter.

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