This limited release web experience is available on the Meta Quest Pro, Meta Quest 2 and iOS and Android smartphones made possible by 8th Wall’s Metaversal Deployment
Wol transforms your space into the redwood forest and introduces you to an AI-enabled owl you can talk to about the forest and its ecosystem.
Users can access Wol in the browser on the Meta Quest Pro or an iOS or Android smartphone — no app required.
This experience was created to showcase the 8th Wall platform’s Metaversal Deployment which enables developers to build a WebAR project once and deploy it everywhere including smartphones and mixed reality headsets.
At Niantic, we believe that AR experiences should connect you to the real-world and encourage you to explore. Our first mixed reality headset experience helps us achieve this mission by using passthrough augmented reality to bring the outdoors to you.
Meet Wol, your loveable guide to the redwood forest. Wol is a mixed reality experience from Niantic which features a Northern Saw-whet owl who has lived in the redwood forest for their entire life. Wol joins you in your space through an AR portal which opens a door to the redwood forest. As an AI-enabled owl, Wol is ready to have a natural conversation with you about the plants on the forest floor, the lifecycle of a tree and the creatures of the forest.
This limited release, browser-based experience was built to showcase one of 8th Wall’s most powerful features, Metaversal Deployment, which enables developers to build once and deploy everywhere — smartphones, computers, tablets, VR HMDs, and now mixed reality devices like Meta Quest Pro. Metaversal Deployment was designed for a new responsive web where immersive websites need to adapt to a device ecosystem which now includes flat screens and wearable headsets. One of the key benefits of Metaversal Deployment is allowing users to access the same AR-enabled website on any device and have a meaningful experience, such as 3D on computers, AR on mobile, and mixed reality on passthrough capable devices. This in turn gives developers the widest reach possible for the content they have created. “The web is a powerful place for augmented reality and we are excited to highlight how the 8th Wall platform can be used to create browser-based content that works across devices including smartphones and mixed reality headsets,” says Tom Emrich, Director of Product Management at Niantic.
“We created Wol to inspire developers to build their own WebAR content that makes use of the truly immersive capabilities of mixed reality passthrough while benefiting from the massive reach and scale of mobile. We can’t wait to see what they create!” - Tom Emrich
While Wol can be engaged with on iOS and Android smartphones, it was optimized for use on the Meta Quest Pro which blends your physical and virtual environment together with full-color mixed reality passthrough. Leveraging the room setup feature on Quest, the Wol experience understands where the walls and surfaces are within your room and uses them to transform your space into the redwood forest. Watch as ferns and mushrooms grow on the surfaces in your room around you and gaze up at the magnificence of the redwood forest though the AR portal which has replaced one of your walls. Once Wol flies into your space, you can talk to them to learn about the forest ecosystem, ask them to tell jokes and stories of their life, or even get Wol to sing you some of their favorite songs. The addition of hand tracking to pet Wol and spatial audio adds further realism to this experience. When your visit comes to an end, Wol will fly back into the redwood forest until you return for another conversation. “We are excited to see great content like Wol being built for Meta Quest devices using the 8th Wall platform. It’s a great example of what is possible with WebXR and mixed reality,” says Nilesh Patel, Product Lead (Developer Platform) at Meta.
“We believe that mixed reality using WebXR has the potential to revolutionize the way immersive experiences are built and shared, and we are excited to see what the 8th Wall developer community creates in the future.” - Nilesh Patel
Wol was developed in partnership with Liquid City, a design practice specializing in XR and AI, with a focus on shaping a positive future for technology in society. The team developed Wol using the 8th Wall Cloud Editor, our cloud-based IDE which is built from the ground up for WebAR development and offers all the tools needed for teams to create, collaborate and publish immersive experiences across devices. “Wol is a really ambitious project, pulling together the latest technology from Niantic’s 8th Wall platform, Inworld and Meta, into a charming encounter with a talking owl,” says Keiichi Matsuda, Director at Liquid City.
“We are excited to explore how XR and AI can combine to enable new ways of learning. You can visit Wol just by clicking a link - your living room will transform into the redwood forest, whether you’re on mobile or headset. It’s a really simple and approachable way to learn about the forest ecosystem, with a lot of depth and character.” - Keiichi Matsuda
In addition to showcasing Niantic’s capabilities in mixed reality, Wol also highlights the 8th Wall platform’s readiness to leverage generative AI to enhance AR experiences. The AI-enabled character, Wol, was created using Inworld AI, the developer platform for AI characters. The Inworld Engine is composed of several machine learning and character AI models that are designed to mimic human gestures, speech, safety, emotion, and memory. Inworld’s technology has been integrated with 8th Wall to power Wol’s distinct personality and contextual awareness within the experience. The combination of mixed reality, GenAI and 8th Wall’s Metaversal Deployment makes this web experience a first-of-its-kind for the browser. “Generative AI and AR go hand-in-hand and we were excited to join forces with Niantic and Liquid City on creating a first-of-its-kind browser-based experience which features an AI-enabled character,” says John Gaeta, Chief Creative Officer at Inworld.
“The demand for immersive content is rising and we are excited to see Wol as a powerful example of what is possible when developers use Inworld’s platform to create intelligent virtual characters and bring them into 8th Wall. Inworld has quickly become a force multiplier for developers, who are flocking to the platform to create AI-powered virtual characters with human-like speech, facial gestures and body language for immersive realities including the metaverse, VR/AR, games, and virtual worlds.” - John Gaeta
This is just the beginning of our journey in mixed reality and generative AI. Equipped with our tools, we can’t wait to see what our developers create. Developers can get started building their own experiences using 8th Wall’s Metaversal Deployment by visiting the 8th Wall blog. To help support your development, we are excited to announce that the second cohort of our newly launched Niantic Innovation Labs will be focused on building 8th Wall experiences for mixed reality devices. If you are interested in learning more about the Innovation Labs and this cohort, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet Wol on your iOS and Android smartphone or in the Meta Quest 2 or Meta Quest Pro by visiting MeetWol.com in the browser. Meta Quest users can easily access Wol as a featured experience on the homepage of the Meta Browser.