Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024
More info available :
Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2020-10
End: 2022-10


Virtual reality for web search

SearXR brings a beautiful, privacy-respecting search to 2D and 3D devices. Why? Because searching on alternative devices (VR headsets, conference-presentation) is not always easy nor private. SearXR aims to provide alternative search interfaces which are more appropriate for VR, AR and big screens. SearXR aims to progressively enhance these search experiences: better screen-layout, privacy, and WebXR compatibility. All features are based on user preferences and available hardware. Built upon SearX and W3C's WebXR technology, it will enable everybody to search, or add XR-features to their SearX instance. Whether it be state of the art headsets, or a 65” screen: pointing the browser to an SearXR-instance will immediately launch a wonderful, privacy-respecting search experience.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Virtual, augmented or 'enhanced' reality are all terms for a range of technologies that have been long in the making, but now seem to become more commonplace with the rise of smartphones and video screens. Combining digital experiences with the real world open up a lot of possibilities, from new gaming experiences (remember the Pokemon Go craze?) to industrial design, healthcare, education, the list goes on.

The problem is however, that like most consumer technology, the tools and devices you end up using are usually not transparently designed and essentially black boxes that give you a shiny user experience, but little control over how it actually works. This can raise issues of security and privacy which becomes especially problematic when this technology is used in for example healthcare.

Innovation should not come at the cost of privacy, safety or data governance. The same goes for augmented and virtual reality, which does not need to be a tool for surveillance to offer useful and imaginative experiences. This project wants to make online search on augmented reality devices like VR headsets more privacy- and user-friendly. As search is an important starting point for any online device, this can be a first step to building augmented and virtual reality experiences more reliable and trustworthy.

Run by 2WA

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.