The Khronos Group consortium of hardware and software companies has released its unifying, royalty-free, open standard for high-performance access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms and devices.
Known as the OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification and released during GDC 2019 in San Francisco, the standard specifies a cross-platform application programming interface (API) enabling extended reality (XR) hardware platform vendors to expose the functionality of their runtime systems.
The new specification can be found on the Khronos website and has been released in provisional form to enable developers and implementers to provide feedback at the OpenXR forum.
Members of Khronos hope that by accessing a common set of objects and functions corresponding to application lifecycle, rendering, tracking, frame timing and input, software developers can run their applications across multiple XR systems with minimal porting effort—significantly reducing industry fragmentation.
The Khronos OpenXR working group was formed in early 2017 with the support and participation of XR companies.
Throughout the development of the specification, multiple Khronos members have been developing independent implementations to ensure a robust and complete specification.
Many of these implementations are becoming available for developers to evaluate, including the Monado OpenXR open source implementation from Collabora and the OpenXR runtime for Windows Mixed Reality headsets from Microsoft. The Unreal Engine from Epic will also continue to support OpenXR.
“OpenXR seeks to simplify AR/VR software development, enabling applications to reach a wider array of hardware platforms without having to port or re-write their code and subsequently allowing platform vendors supporting OpenXR access to more applications,” explained Brent Insko, lead VR architect at Intel and OpenXR working group chair.
“The OpenXR provisional specification—together with the runtimes publicly available at launch and coming in the next few weeks—will enable hands-on, cross-platform testing by application and engine developers. The working group welcomes developer feedback to ensure an OpenXR 1.0 specification that truly meets the needs of the XR industry.”