The Khronos Group has announced ratification and public release of the OpenXR standard for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems.
OpenXR is billed as "a unifying, royalty-free, open standard" for "high-performance, cross-platform" VR and AR implementations. Today's 1.0 release marks a jumping-off point. Khronos promises that it will maintain full backward compatibility from this point forward. That means developers can build on the OpenXR foundation in confidence that their work will remain viable as the standard continues to evolve.
"The working group is excited to launch the 1.0 version of the OpenXR specification" said Brent Insko, OpenXR working group chair and lead XR architect at Intel. "Our work continues as we now finalize a comprehensive test suite, integrate key game engine support, and plan the next set of features to evolve a truly vibrant, cross-platform standard for XR platforms and devices. Now is the time for software developers to start putting OpenXR to work."
A number of OpenXR implementations will be shipping this week. Most notably, these include an OpenXR implementation from Oculus, for its Rift and Quest headsets. Microsoft will also be shipping OpenXR runtime software supporting Windows Mixed Reality headsets from multiple vendors. Collabora will release the Monado OpenXR open-source implementation. And Epic Games is planning to release OpenXR 1.0 support for its Unreal Engine, widely used in games development.
Epic, Microsoft and Varjo will be demonstrating OpenXR applications at the SIGGRAPH 2019 show this week in Los Angeles, California, both at the OpenXR Birds of a Feather (BOF) presentation at 1:00pm PT on July 31 and at the Khronos Networking Reception at 5:30pm PT. No passes are required for either event, and all are welcome to attend.
OpenXR comes with an enviable pedigree and broad industry support. The Khronos Group has been stewarding the ubiquitous OpenGL standard for hardware-accelerated graphics, and the newer Vulkan standard for realtime graphics used in gaming and other applications.
Multiple vendors expressed their excitement at the milestone release, which should help reduce fragmentation in the burgeoning AR/VR industry, and help adoption move more swiftly.
"Facebook and Oculus continue to believe in the value the OpenXR standard delivers to users and developers," said Nate Mitchell, Oculus Co-founder and head of VR product, Facebook. "We plan to provide runtime support for apps built on OpenXR 1.0 on the Rift and Quest platforms."
"OpenXR is an important milestone for VR," said Joe Ludwig, programmer at Valve. "This API will allow games and other applications to work easily across a variety of hardware platforms without proprietary SDKs. Valve is happy to have worked closely with other VR industry leaders to create this open standard, and looks forward to supporting it in SteamVR,"
"The mobile era of computing was defined and ultimately constrained by closed ecosystems. With mixed reality, the next wave of computing must be and will be open," said Don Box, Technical Fellow at Microsoft. "Today, Microsoft is proud to release the first OpenXR 1.0 runtime that supports mixed reality, for all Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens 2 users."
"OpenXR 1.0 release is a huge milestone and AMD is proud to have been a member in its creation," said Daryl Sartain, Director of XR at AMD.. "As always, AMD is a proponent of open industry standards."
"Arm is focused on developing technology innovations that power the next generation of untethered, standalone AR/VR devices," said Roger Barker, director of IP solutions, Immersive Experience Group, Arm.. "The release of the OpenXR 1.0 specification will further enable us to break barriers for cross-platform XR applications, while bringing the performance and efficiency required to support these complex, immersive use cases,"
"We are pioneering the Monado open source runtime for OpenXR to ensure the future of XR is truly open and accessible to all hardware vendors," said Ryan Pavlik, OpenXR Specification Editor, XR Principal Software Engineer at Collabora.
Consumers and businesses looking forward to putting VR and AR to use should be pleased to see this degree of consensus. Hopefully, these new technologies will dodge the kind of proprietary-standards morass that has bogged down so many digital advancements over the years.