FireBox is the first browser to put you inside the Internet.
Let’s face it: the ‘page’ metaphor to describe the web has become dated since it emerged in the 1990’s. The internet has become a vastly more interesting and all-enveloping space, changing more about our external lives than a book ever could. James McCrae‘s new Oculus Rift 3D browser, called FireBox, was inspired by reading the cyberpunk novel Snow Crash and a vision of a more social, embodied Internet.
Some of the metaphors that are part of FireBox’s user experience are to be expected; every website is a room, for example, and pictures hang on the walls. This already adds to the experience of the web, as sites like reddit are more fun to browse when they’re more than just text-heavy lists. However, some pages have some unexpected, even stunning, qualities, looking more like organic landscapes. The program was originally devised to help people learn how to code for the Oculus Rift, and the fruits of this effort are evident in webpages that are enhanced with special code that makes them display differently in the world of the Rift. McCrae’s code looks similar to HTML, except a ‘FireBoxRoom‘ takes the place of the webpage body, and 3D assets can be placed throughout to create an immersive world. For those without a VR viewer, the browser can also be opened in Windows and Linux,.
Even more exciting is the future McCrae envisions for FireBox, in which multiple people, ideally, would be able to explore the virtual world together. This could change our whole notion of the internet – is that YouTube commenter just a troll, or are they a fellow person trying to walk alongside you in a new, big and confusing universe?