Is Augmented Reality the Future of Web Browsing?

In our ideal cyberpunk future, physical screens will be a thing of the past — no more bulky smartphones, no more 75" TVs taking up an…

In our ideal cyberpunk future, physical screens will be a thing of the past — no more bulky smartphones, no more 75" TVs taking up an entire wall of your living room, and no more computer monitor hogging your desk space. In that world, all of those screens will be shown through some sort of augmented reality headset — hopefully in the form of contact lenses or, even better, a brain implant. You’ll obviously need to be able to surf the internet, and Matthew Hallberg’s Augmented Reality Web Browser is a great first step in that direction.

The idea here is simple: take your browser windows into augmented reality. That way you can have as many virtual screens as you like, and they can be as big as you like without taking up any real world space. Hallberg is just running this on a Samsung Galaxy S7, but it can be easily adapted to pretty much any virtual reality or augmented reality headset. It uses only free software, including Android, ARCore, and Unity, which can all run on a variety of devices.

In the video, Hallberg explains the various ways he approached this problem, and why many of them didn’t work. Eventually, however, he found a working solution. ARCore is used as the underlying augmented reality platform, and Unity is used to create the virtual display. The user searches for something using a speech-to-text module, and the request is offloaded to an external server through a VPN.

The server then takes a snapshot of the page, saves it as an image, and returns it. That image is then applied as a texture to the virtual display within Unity. That results in what looks like a monitor showing the web browser, sitting in augmented reality space. The lack of gesture control means you’d have to say what you want to search for out loud, but it’s a good step forward.

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