Introduction

A participant in Four Kitchens' WebVR Usability Study looks up.

Four Kitchens wants to stay ahead of our clients’ needs. One way we do this is through research into new media, content, and communication channels. During the summer of 2017, Four Kitchens engineers developed a Virtual Reality (VR) experience that can be viewed with a web browser on a smartphone, otherwise known as WebVR. We chose to create a WebVR experience because it is more accessible, has fewer minimum technical requirements and has the least financial investment for the end user. These experiences can be accessed by anyone with a smartphone, internet access, and a headset like a Google Cardboard or a Google Daydream.

On the other side of the coin, there are limitations when designing for WebVR. Since the content of the experience is streamed instead of downloaded to the smartphone as an app, the user can experience frame rate delays, resolution quality differences, and controller alignment difficulties. We used the framework A-frame to develop our experience, but A-frame does not perform equally on all smartphone platforms. Some functionality, audio components for example, worked on the Google Pixel but not on the Apple iPhone. Because of the audio capabilities, we used the Google Pixel in our study. The Google Daydream controller needed an additional activation phase to be usable in WebVR that is not needed for native Daydream applications. Since the Google Daydream controller uses Bluetooth for connectivity, there were many instances in which the controller was not accurately portrayed within the experience. Some of these issues were related to the controller’s orientation to the user, and some of the issues were related to lag or freezing as seen within the experience.