Khronos Announces VR Standards Initiative

Industry call to define common Virtual Reality APIs

December 6th 2016 – SIGGRAPH Asia - Macau – The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, today announced a call for participation in a new initiative to define a cross-vendor, royalty-free, open standard for access to modern virtual reality (VR) devices.

The rapid growth of the virtual reality market has led to platform fragmentation, forcing VR applications and engines to be ported and customized to run on multiple VR runtimes, and requiring VR sensors and displays to be integrated with multiple driver interfaces. This fragmentation slows the widespread availability of compelling VR experiences, creating added expense for developers wishing to support multiple VR devices, and hindering the adoption of innovative user interface technologies.

“Khronos has been on the forefront of advanced graphics and system APIs for over 15 years, and in keeping with that tradition and obligation to the industry at large has embarked on a new, vitally needed set of APIs and standards for the emerging VR market. We applaud the industry-leading companies that are coming together as Khronos members for this endeavor, and expect the whole industry will share our sentiment,” said Jon Peddie, President of JPR.

Key components of the new standard will include APIs for tracking of headsets, controllers and other objects, and for easily integrating devices into a VR runtime. This will enable applications to be portable to any VR system that conforms to the Khronos standard, significantly enhancing the end-user experience, and driving more choice of content to spur further growth in the VR market.

Fast-paced work on detailed proposals and designs will start after an initial exploratory phase to define the standard’s scope and key objectives. Any company interested to participate is strongly encouraged to join Khronos for a voice and a vote in the development process. Design contributions from any member are welcome. More information on this initiative and joining the Khronos Group is available at www.khronos.org/vr.

Industry Support

“The virtual reality industry has garnered massive attention and investment, resulting in validation of virtual reality technology. We believe continued growth will require standardization and AMD supports the Khronos initiative for an open standard,” said Daryl Sartain, director and worldwide head of VR at AMD.

“Virtual reality is driving the graphics industry forward with user experiences becoming so compelling they are transforming visual computing for people at home, work and in their leisure time,” said Jakub Lamik, VP Product Marketing, Media Processing Group, ARM. “The success and scaling of this market will be accelerated by industry standards, and Khronos is a pioneering leader in this area that we fully support.”

“With VR on the verge of rapid growth across all of the major platform families, this new Khronos open standards initiative is very timely. We at Epic Games will wholeheartedly contribute to the effort, and we'll adopt and support the resulting API in Unreal Engine,” said Tim Sweeney, founder & CEO, Epic Games.

“Open standards which allow developers to more easily create compelling, cross platform experiences will help bring the magic of VR to everyone. We look forward to working with our industry colleagues on this initiative,” said Mike Jazayeri, director product management, Google VR.

“The Immersive Technology Alliance's mission is long-term viability for technologies like virtual, augmented, and mixed reality.  We achieve this through a multifaceted approach, and truly open standards are a required pillar for this market to stand on.  The alliance has collaborated with the Khronos Group for years, and we look forward to participating with this effort to help drive its success for the industry at large in tandem with other market-building initiatives within the ITA / ITA VR Council,” said Neil Schneider, executive director, The Immersive Technology Alliance.

“Virtual Reality represents a revolution to the computing interface,” said Kim Pallister, director of the VR Center of Excellence at Intel.  ”We look forward to collaborating with Khronos contributors to deliver an open standard for VR and help accelerate innovation.”

“In this time of rapid growth of the Virtual Reality market, VR thought leaders are developing competing APIs in their quest to create solutions and bring them to market.  Alignment on open standards for VR will help members of the VR ecosystem to efficiently develop API extensions, tools, drivers, and applications that are compatible and can be readily consumed by the community.  We support Khronos in this effort,” said Karen Ghavam, CEO at LunarG.

“NVIDIA is excited to see the industry come together around an open standard for VR,” said Jason Paul, general manager for virtual reality at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA is fully engaged at Khronos on building a new standard that drives wider adoption and cross-platform content for VR.”

“Khronos’ open APIs have been immensely valuable to the industry, balancing the forces of differentiation and innovation against gratuitous vendor incompatibility. As virtual reality matures and the essential capabilities become clear in practice, a cooperatively developed open standard API is a natural and important milestone. Oculus is happy to contribute to this effort,” said John Carmack, CTO, Oculus VR.

“The Open Gaming Alliance (OGA) is focused on supporting the games industry. With games currently making up the largest market for virtual and augmented reality, game developers and publishers already have an infinite list of criteria for building games. Having standardized APIs will greatly aid the rate of innovation for games and other forms of immersive entertainment and experiences. The OGA looks forward working closely with Khronos Group to help with this important initiative,” said Wanda Meloni, executive director, The Open Gaming Alliance.

“Virtual reality’s success is dependent on a large thriving market of hardware where casual and professional consumers alike can take their pick without worry of fragmentation and incompatibility,” said Christopher Mitchell, OSVR business lead, Razer. “This has been OSVR’s vision from day one and we are thrilled to be a part of the Khronos Group in order to push standardization of interfaces across the industry.”

“When you buy a new printer, you don't have to upgrade your word processor. Through an open standard for VR and AR, users will enjoy the same ability to choose the best devices and peripherals - regardless of vendor - and have them work together well,” says Yuval Boger, CEO at Sensics. “Our team learned a lot while creating OSVR as well as during a decade of building HMDs. We are excited to bring this expertise in support of the Khronos open API initiative.”

“As a market leader in Eye tracking, Tobii has invested heavily in developing technologies for Eye tracking in VR and welcomes this VR standardization initiative at Khronos,” said Johan Hellqvist, vice president - Products and Integration, Tobii. “Foveated rendering and Gaze interaction is key for the VR experience and Khronos efforts in standardizing APIs for developers focusing on VR will ensure proliferation of content and richness of the VR ecosystem.”

“The number of VR systems on the market is growing rapidly. Most of these require separate API support from the developer, which is causing huge fragmentation for consumers,” said Gabe Newell of Valve. “Khronos’ work on a standard API to enable applications to target a wide variety of VR devices is an important step to counter that trend.”

“VR is a complex amalgam of almost everything in the modern day pixel pushing pipeline from powerful GPUs to machine vision processing to advanced display controller technology,” said Weijin Dai, executive vice president and general manager of VeriSilicon's Intellectual Property Division. “As a significant provider of these technologies we are thrilled that Khronos has taken on the task of creating a comprehensive VR standard and we intend to support this effort fully.”

About The Khronos Group

The Khronos Group is an industry consortium creating open standards to enable the authoring and acceleration of parallel computing, graphics, vision and neural nets on a wide variety of platforms and devices. Khronos standards include Vulkan™, OpenGL®, OpenGL® ES, OpenGL® SC, WebGL™, SPIR-V™, OpenCL™, SYCL™, OpenVX™, NNEF™, COLLADA™, and glTF™. Khronos members are enabled to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment, and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge accelerated platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.

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Khronos, Vulkan, DevU, SPIR, SPIR-V, SYCL, WebGL, WebCL, COLLADA, OpenKODE, OpenVG, OpenVX, EGL, glTF, OpenKCAM, StreamInput, OpenWF, OpenSL ES, NNEF and OpenMAX are trademarks of the Khronos Group Inc. OpenCL is a trademark of Apple Inc. and OpenGL is a registered trademark and the OpenGL ES and OpenGL SC logos are trademarks of Silicon Graphics International used under license by Khronos. All other product names, trademarks, and/or company names are used solely for identification and belong to their respective owners.

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