As we get closer to bringing Unity Reflect to the masses this fall, here’s an overview of how you’ll be able to use the product out of the box as well as make it your own.
We recently unveiled our new architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) product, Unity Reflect, which is now in limited private release. If you’re hearing about it for the first time or need a refresher, check out this video:
To use Unity Reflect, your firm simply needs to already use one of the supported applications, like Revit or SketchUp. We’ve worked with Autodesk and Trimble to create native plugins that reduce data preparation to a single step. In one click, you can aggregate multiple BIM/CAD datasets and optimize them for real-time 3D. (Note: Revit and SketchUp are just the start. We plan to bring support for Unity Reflect to many more third-party design applications.)
In this way, Unity Reflect fast tracks your ability to conduct immersive, interactive design reviews. Let’s cover three ways you can use this product out of the box to make better design decisions:
Whether you’re attempting to win a bid, striving for internal alignment, or seeking client approval, Unity Reflect can be used at any design review stage. It allows multiple stakeholders of any level of technical sophistication to review real-time 3D models simultaneously on a wide range of supported devices.
For a non-technical stakeholder like a project owner, you can use a tablet to create an augmented reality (AR) tabletop experience or make the review truly immersive in a VR headset, instead of showing a 2D blueprint or a static PDF. And for technical stakeholders like architects, building designers, and engineers, Unity Reflect’s ability to merge multiple BIM/CAD datasets allows everyone to get on the same page and get ahead of downstream errors.
Visualization is just one component of Unity Reflect. Because the renderings are live linked to Revit or SketchUp, you can make changes in your design application (e.g., relocating or adding a window or door) and see them updated in VR and other devices instantly.
Now, ideas and feedback can be implemented in real-time instead of days or weeks later. This cuts down on lost time in between review meetings and revisions and ultimately helps you stay ahead of project timelines.
Unity Reflect doesn’t just bring over geometry data from Revit and SketchUp – it also preserves the metadata. Using the built-in BIM filtering feature, you can isolate various subsystems (e.g., mechanical, electrical, plumbing) to zero in on exactly what you want to review.
Democratizing the development of interactive content is core to Unity’s DNA, which is why we've designed Reflect to be extensible from day one. If you have Unity developers on your team, they can bring the federated datasets into Unity to create a custom end-user experience. Here’s how:
Unity Reflect is a reference application that provides access to the source code, so you can build viewers and applications on top of the product using the Editor. This could be something as simple as customizing the graphical user interface (GUI) to include the logo of your client and the title of the project, to creating a completely new white-glove experience.
Or it could involve something more complex involving data visualization and simulation. For instance, we’ve seen our beta customers develop a status tracking application to monitor building components through the construction process, as well as build an acoustic simulation and visualization tool for VR to understand the acoustic influence on design. Whatever problem you need to solve, Unity Reflect can help you get there and present a differentiated experience.
For many use cases, the level of rendering quality Unity Reflect provides will be more than sufficient for reviewing projects. But in other instances, such as attempting to win a bid or during client review, you may want to use Unity to present a more polished model.
This could include bringing in additional BIM or CAD data to show the real-world environment surrounding the project, or adding configurator options to run through different floor and furniture materials, for example. For projects that require stunning visualizations and high visual fidelity walkthroughs, you can also take advantage of Unity’s myriad capabilities to create photorealistic environments.
At launch, Unity Reflect will support iOS devices (including AR capabilities), desktops (Mac and PC), and the HTC Vive. If you wish to extend projects to other platforms and devices, rest assured you can bring them into the Editor and take advantage of its capabilities to deploy to over 20 platforms, including Android, Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus, GearVR, Google Daydream, and many others. Over time, we will expand native platform support for Unity Reflect so you can circumvent the Editor to review projects on these platforms.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the innovative ways our customers will use and build upon Unity Reflect. Stay tuned for more updates next month, when we showcase how one of our beta customers is using Unity Reflect. And if you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list below to stay in the loop.