11 February 2022

Why and how do you use Unity3D for AR?

️ Blog
14 min. reading time

Unity3D is basically a video game engine. You can generate interactive 3D images with it. Unity is used for building many 3D games, such as Arizona Sunshine and Beat Saber. AR and VR is an extension of this video game engine. Together with Unreal, Unity is one of two accessible, large, widely used engines, also for VR and AR applications. This means that Unity3D can not only be used for video games, but also for applications such as the Hololens. In this blog, Social Brothers gives an insight into the many AR possibilities that are available with Unity3D.

What can you do with Unity3D?

Unity3D thus originated as a game engine. However, the program is so open and flexible that you can do a lot more with it than make video games. All applications of the Hololens or other VR glasses can be designed with Unity. Furthermore, the engine has the ability to export to both Android and Iphone apps. So there are many application possibilities on one basis. The program is especially suitable for interactive matters and for generating real-time images. You can play sound with it, you can play video with it, you can play videos on 3D models, there are possibilities to communicate directly with USB devices… From an interactive audiobook to a 3D model of a washing machine: you can think of it so crazy or you can design it with Unity3D. That is why Unity is also very suitable for all kinds of AR applications.

What are the benefits of Unity?

The big advantage of Unity is that it is very accessible. It is easy to learn and the interface is very clear. It is therefore a good choice for beginners. But it is also very suitable for advanced developers because of the many options that are available.

A second advantage is that Unity is linked to an asset store, where you can, for example, buy fully developed 3D models of trucks (or whatever you need). The program therefore offers many possibilities for reuse, which you can also take into account in your own code. This way you can use your own script several times for different projects.

Thanks to the possibility of reuse, you can quickly make prototypes for something: you can have a very good proof-of-concept in one day. By reusing your own code or using assets from the store, there is always something close to what you might need. You can therefore quickly get an idea of ​​whether something is possible, which you can optimize later. The longer you work with it, the more you develop your own toolbox for this and the faster you can build and iterate. These quick-to-design prototypes allow you to try out things that would cost a lot of time or money in real life.

In addition, Unity is expanding the asset store by buying and offering assets. As a result, the program is constantly evolving and the possibilities are also increasing. For example, Unity recently bought Bolt† Bolt gives the possibility to script visually. This way you can program without writing a single line of code.

What is Social Brothers doing with Unity3D and AR?

Social Brothers uses Unity3D for all almost AR and VR projects. That's the basis behind the remote Assistanceapplication we designed for Bureau Veritas. For this application, we designed a 3D model of a ship's engine room with Unity. Learn how this 3D model helps Bureau Veritas inspectors inspect ships.

The app Hack the file (downloadable in the Play Store and the App Store) we also designed with Unity. In this app you race on the highway and you get points for things that cause traffic jams, such as overtaking on the right or driving on the left unnecessarily. It is an educational game that makes you aware of how you, as a motorist, contribute to the creation of traffic jams. In addition to the regular version, we also made a VR version of it. Because Unity is so open, it was possible to design the proof-of-concept in two hours based on the existing 2D version. It took 24 hours to create the final VR version.

We also use Unity for 3D models of various products and buildings and for timelapses, such as our timelapse in which you see how a harbor is built.

Read more in us blog about practical applications of AR and us blog about the possibilities in marketing.

Tips for working with Unity3D

For the advanced Unity3D developer, we have a tip about optimizing. Look especially at how you can make things run more smoothly, without making it too graphically heavy. For example, be careful with the amount of light points and the amount of materials, because that comes at the expense of performance. Also consider carefully to what extent optimization is necessary. That is very project-related. For SEAT, for example, we design a 3D model for the mobile phone. Phones aren't as powerful as computers and if you want to show a realistic car, that's too heavy. This means, for example, that projecting the model is choppy. That is why we look at details that are in the 3D model, but which you do not see, such as the suspension and the brake discs. We took those out. Furthermore, we made all materials the same and remodeled some parts, such as the rims. This is how we made it possible for the app to run smoothly.

One last tip for the advanced Unity3D user. If you want to test the performance, don't use the editor. The editor itself also costs a lot of performance. So do not only test in the editor, but also outside it. It may well be that your project already runs smoothly outside the editor, while it doesn't run smoothly in the editor.

For the novice it is important to make sure that you understand how the interface works. We recommend the tutorial on the left for this.

Want to know more?

If you want to know more about augmented reality, check us out complete handbook on AR or sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed.

Do you want to know how Social Brothers can help you develop AR applications? contact us.

Steven Founder[email protected]06-20413957
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