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Prototype: Virtual Reality e-commerce


At Teespring we have quarterly hackathons. We all throw suggestions into a melting-pot of ideas in the run-up to the event, with the most promising, most interesting, and most popular suggestions graduating to be hacked upon by a small team for a couple of days.

A friend of mine at DODOcase had given me a couple of Google Cardboard-based virtual reality viewers that I hadn't gotten around to playing with yet, and this hackathon was the perfect opportunity to have a play!

The basic idea was to use the Virtual Reality capabilities in WebGL to give a Cardboard-equipped customer a 3D virtual preview of the product. This is still experimental stuff, but well-supported in all modern mobile browsers!

In order to prove the idea was even vaguely possible, and to give my Hackathon pitch some substance, I put together this quick-and-dirty prototype (full-screen version here):

Here, the Cardboard shows the left render to your left eye, and the right render to your right eye. The camera locations are slightly different meaning you get a stereoscopic effect!

In the end, I didn't move the idea past this prototype stage (and ended up hacking on machine learning fraud detection instead… more on that another time maybe), but I was surprised by how easy it was to get VR working on my phone browser, and how well it performed!