When you hear Unity, you probably think immediately about games. This makes sense, considering we’ve been synonymous with gaming since 2004. What many in our community have started to realize, though, is that Unity is simply a tool and can have far-reaching applications beyond games.
To give you a sense of this, we’re taking a closer look at seven applications of Unity that show how our tools can be used for other industries. We hope that these stories will leave you inspired and motivated to continue to create with Unity in games or beyond.
Getting to know the team behind Ready Player Me has impacted our perspective on what the metaverse should look like. They are working towards a future where technology fosters human connection and collaboration across every app. Their avatars are your way into this future, with one consistent identity.
While chatting about his journey to Unity development, Sercan (Sarge) Altundaş said something we found encouraging and insightful for anyone starting out: “There were so many times I wanted to give up. You learn some things, you feel great, then a blocker comes and it kills all your enthusiasm. You see other people who understand it and you feel bad, stupid, and powerless. But it’s ok, that's normal and human. Now, after years of small experiments, side projects, and actual work experience, knowing what to do becomes a reflex.” If you’ve hit a blocker, keep going – you’ll get there!
“After years of small experiments, side projects, and actual work experience, knowing what to do becomes a reflex.” – Sercan (Sarge) Altundaş, SDK and integrations team leader for Ready Player Me
Spectra Cities is another metaverse project focused on human connection and collaboration. With Spectra, the NUMENA team is asking the question, “What if there was a way to play with the big problems of the future that didn’t leave us feeling paralyzed and voiceless?” Andreea Ion Cojocaru and her team are redefining urban planning with collective dreaming and building, which gives people agency and a say in the design process.
“Urban planning is often approached as a rational exercise in laying out streets and buildings. At Numena, we wanted to include the subjective experience of a place as part of the process.” – Andreea Ion Cojocaru, co-founder at NUMENA
Planning and construction isn’t the only thing that’s being redefined with VR and real-time 3D. Digital twins have given people a way to monitor and maintain operations in cities. The digital twin of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges by Wim Wouters is a great example of this.
The first conceptual prototype for the Antwerp Port Information & Control Assistant (APICA) dates back to 2019. Wim Wouters’ initial explorations served the purpose of demonstrating the opportunities of a virtual port, complementing – and in time, coexisting symbiotically with – the real one. Since then, APICA has managed to mature into an actual operational digital twin, covering activities in the port of both Antwerp and Bruges (following their merge in 2022).
“I believe digital twins, such as APICA, are a very meaningful application of game tech: one day, these virtual environments can help make their physical siblings a safer and healthier place.” – Wim Wouters, CEO at Poppins & Wayne
Another team we feel lucky to know is the engineers from Varjo. Their creativity is unbound, and it has been an absolute pleasure to see the spectrum of what they imagine. From the wacky and fun to the utilitarian and practical, they push the boundaries of mixed reality.
“Did you know that ‘varjo’ means shadow in Finnish? The name comes from the fact that our mixed reality headset, XR-3, is the world’s only device to allow users to see realistic reflections, shadows, and lights on virtual objects.” – Jussi Karhu, lead software engineer at Varjo
Like the team from Varjo, Steven Christian also impresses us with the spectrum of his applications. He is one of those people you ask, “When do you sleep?” Currently studying neuroscience in the M.D./Ph.D. program at University of Nevada, Steven is also making AR headsets and comic books, and somehow also finding time to experiment with immersive technology.
In his own words, “I like enhancing [...] education with VFX because you learn better if it looks cool.” A sentiment that you can heartily agree with when you see Cardiac Cycle AR.
“Creating immersive tech is like playing in a field with all of your favorite toys. Since being in this space, I’ve felt like many of the hindrances I had working in comics and animation have gone away. Now, I can create projects that could literally bend reality, and share them with the world easily through books, videos, and even toys. It feels pretty surreal at times. That is the most exciting part because the possibilities are only limited by the ideas you come up with.” – Steven Christian, artist, medical student, and CEO at Iltopia Studios
With anything you learn, reading or watching is different from doing. This is often the value of VR. Instead of experiencing the work for the first time in the field, VR gives people simulated experiences during training. For this reason, it can help improve competency and retention. Berenice Terwey’s Plumbing System Maintenance Simulator showcases this.
Terwey shared, “Unity is a powerful and versatile engine that can be used for a wide range of applications beyond just games. As a freelance Unity developer and XR prototyper, I have been using Unity to create virtual and augmented reality experiences as marketing and sales tools, training applications, architectural visualizations, exposure therapy, etc. Unity's support for VR and AR development, cross-platform compatibility, a powerful, yet efficient rendering engine, and tools such as Unity Reflect and Unity Perception make it a great choice for me to create versatile non-game applications.”
“Unity is a powerful and versatile engine that can be used for a wide range of applications beyond just games” – Berenice Terwey, specialist in XR solutions
Did we tear up while watching Sprout? Yes, yes we did. And how could you not? Sprout is a heartfelt short film about a botanical child and the kind-hearted gardener who nurtures the child’s individuality. As director Nayt Cochran summarizes, “We’re all a little different and that’s a lotta cool.”
“For me, it really is about pulling a feeling or an insecurity out of myself, and then trying to respond to it like it isn’t my own. Taking from experience helps keep [a film] grounded, and stepping outside of yourself is a helpful way to find those universal ways to talk about problems we all have,” said Cochran. “Think about how we respond when our friends, kids, or other loved ones feel like they aren’t good enough versus when we feel it. When I write stories, I really do hope someone can [experience them] and say, ‘Oh, it is okay to like how I am,’ or even remember to actively encourage the people they love. Everything and everyone around us all send subtle signals all the time, even if we don’t realize it. Sprout really focuses on how insecurity takes those signals and blows them up to extremes.”
”Everything and everyone around us all send subtle signals all the time, even if we don’t realize it. Sprout really focuses on how insecurity takes those signals and blows them up to extremes.” – Nayt Cochran, director of Sprout
We believe, and have believed it since our founding, that giving creators the tools to create contributes to making the world a more understanding, empathetic, fun, and entertaining place. So, whether it’s games or digital twins, we’re grateful for all of our creators and we’d love to hear from you.
If you’re using Unity outside of games, give us a shout on Twitter. Follow Unity for Digital Twins on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.