Why we’re making the web the home of AR, VR and WebXR content

Blog Author
7 min read
Create immersive headset, smartphone and desktop experiences with our new WebXR support in both Designer and Mattercraft.

At Zappar, we believe that the web browser should be the home of immersive 3D content, including augmented, virtual and mixed reality experiences. That's why today we're excited to announce end-to-end support for WebXR across our creative tooling, making it easier for designers and developers from all backgrounds to create the next generation of AR, VR and Web3D content.

The power of immersive experiences

In our era of 24-7 social media, content has to go above and beyond to leave a lasting impression on consumers. That’s the opportunity of immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality – to deliver an experience that’s more impactful and memorable than a 10-second video that’s swiped away with the flick of a finger on autopilot. Those who have walked a wooden plank from the heights of a virtual skyscraper, or fought the zombie hordes from inside a VR headset, can attest to the level of realism and emotion that immersive experiences can deliver. The effects that immersive technologies like AR/VR have on the brain are something that’s been well documented by others and indeed our research with NeuroInsight and Mindshare back in 2018. 

The challenge

Over the last five years, this type of content has been distributed in the form of apps. Each hardware platform has a set of distinct mechanisms for app deployment:

  • Handheld mobile platforms, like iPhone and Android, have the App Store and Google Play.
  • Standalone headsets, such as Meta Quest and Apple Vision Pro, have equivalent on-device stores for users to browse.
  • PC-powered headsets, such as Valve Index, use ecosystems such as Steam.

In each case, there are significant points of friction in the process of deploying content to end users:

  1. Developers have to build their experience for each device and submit it for review and distribution in each marketplace.
  2. End users have to visit the app store for their device, and install an app.

That may be an acceptable journey for high-budget ‘AAA’ games, but for shorter-form experiences, where users are expected to spend anywhere up to 30 minutes engaging, it can be an unbalanced value exchange, both for the developer and the consumer. In addition, there are specific use cases where app store distribution just isn’t possible or appropriate, such as learning and development, where an organisation may only want to distribute content internally.

WebXR to the rescue

There is an open and ubiquitous distribution platform that we all use every day - the web. Just as the web displaced native apps for 2D user experiences twenty years ago, it will now do the same for immersive 3D content.

The web browsers built into many virtual and mixed reality headsets, including Meta Quest, Pico and Apple Vision Pro, support an emerging standard called WebXR. It means that websites can present rich and interactive 3D content to users, in place of the usual buttons, text, images and video of a traditional web page.

Immersive content distributed in this manner can leverage everything that makes the web great, from ‘app-less’ access by end users, to simplified deployment and distribution without onerous app store review processes.

The final missing piece is the creative tooling to empower developers and designers to build this new era of immersive content.

And that’s where Zappar comes in 🙂.

Tooling for the immersive web - Designer and Mattercraft

We’ve been building creative tooling at Zappar for over twelve years. In 2015 we introduced Zapworks, one of the world’s first end-to-end content platforms for augmented reality. Since then our tools have been used to build almost a million AR experiences and to distribute those experiences to hundreds of millions of end users.

Today we can announce that two of our most powerful tools now support WebXR, enabling the creation of experiences targeting a wide range of devices and form factors, including headsets, smartphones and desktops.

Create no-code headset experiences with Designer

Designer is our no-code tool for building immersive experiences, including augmented reality, and now also, WebXR. Designer simplifies 3D content creation, providing a drag-and-drop interface, with lightweight yet powerful animation and particle systems.

WebXR x Designer

From today, we are delighted to announce that Designer now supports building content for Headsets, starting with the Meta Quest (with more to come!) as well as having a significant upgrade to its animation potential with the addition of new presets and trigger types.

Read more about the updates to Designer here

Build feature-rich headset experiences with Mattercraft

Mattercraft is our complete 3D development environment for the web. It lets developers super-power their existing expertise with rich and intuitive 3D tooling including real-time physics, a powerful animation system including timelines and states, and full integration with the NPM repository of JavaScript libraries. Mattercraft’s WebXR implementation includes full support for controllers and hand tracking, enabling fully interactive experiences.


Both tools are web-based and collaborative, so they’re easy to integrate within existing teams and workflows. With either Designer or Mattercraft you can create, deploy, and distribute immersive content within minutes, on a large range of supported devices.

Read more about Mattercraft's WebXR support here

WebXR support for Zapbox

We’ve already discussed some of the incumbent headsets on the market, including Quest and Apple Vision Pro. But, here at Zappar, we’re also aware that these devices can be expensive.

That’s why we’ve built a headset of our own, called Zapbox. It provides a comparable virtual and mixed reality experience to users but at a fraction of the cost. For just $89, Zapbox provides a headset (that you pop your smartphone into) plus two fully-tracked handheld controllers.

Rosie summers Blog Header (1000x500) (1)-1

And of course, we’re bringing WebXR to Zapbox, look out for an announcement in the coming weeks but in the meantime, be sure to check out Rosie Summer's Open Brush session here

The Future

WebXR support is available today in both Designer and Mattercraft. To get started, head over to https://zap.works. Both tools are available on all our plans, plus there’s a handy 14-day trial if you’re not already a Zapworks content developer.

As always, we’d love to get your feedback on our tools and services, so please feel free to get in touch, either on Discord, or directly to our award-winning customer success team.

We can't wait to see what you build 😀