One of the problems companies working within the XR space have been trying to solve is the issue of platform fragmentation, where developers have to build for each one; taking up time and precious resources. Which is why The Khronos Group in conjunction with Valve, Facebook, HTC, NVIDIA and others created OpenXR. This week Valve announced the launch of an OpenXR Developer Preview for SteamVR.
OpenXR is one of those initiatives which sits in the background unnoticed but has massive implications for the industry. The open-standard allows developers to build their project once and it’ll work across all the various hardware and software platforms available.
In a statement, the company notes: “Valve is releasing initial support for the current 1.0.9 OpenXR release now, to enable developers to begin work implementing OpenXR applications that work with SteamVR, but it is not yet enabled for broad general use.”
It’s still going to be a while yet before OpenXR becomes widely available and implemented as the defacto standard but these are the necessary steps to get there. This announcement follows on from Oculus’ in March when the company mentioned that the Prototype OpenXR API would be madfe available to developers using Oculus PC and Mobile software development kits (SDK).
The news is also important for devs using game engines like Unity. A few months ago when Unity made its High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) VR compatible it noted that OpenVR compatibility would be phased out because Valve was working on its own OpenVR Unity XR Plugin for 2019.3.
SteamVR is already fairly hardware agnostic, compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive/Vive Cosmos, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. But there are plenty more devices out there and with more on the way, especially as an influx of Qualcomm XR2 Powered 5G devices are expected to begin arriving by the end of 2020.
As further OpenXR advancements are made, VRFocus will keep you updated.