Unity Tech –
Unity Reflect arrives in December
Unity Reflect, our new real-time 3D product for building information modeling (BIM) workflows, will be released from beta and available for purchase on December 2.
Last year at Autodesk University Las Vegas, we unveiled the next phase of our strategic collaboration with Autodesk, bolstering our commitment to achieve full data interoperability between many Autodesk products and Unity. We planned to launch the first integrations stemming from the collaboration in late 2019.
We are making good on that promise with the imminent release of Unity Reflect, our new product for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry that integrates with Autodesk Revit, the industry-leading BIM software. Together, we are making real-time BIM a reality by enabling AEC stakeholders:
- Designers and engineers can transfer Revit models into real-time experiences, including in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
- Developers can create highly customized real-time 3D applications leveraging BIM data by building on top of Unity Reflect with the Unity Editor
- Clients and collaborators can review projects in an immersive, interactive way on an array of devices
What is Unity Reflect?
Whether you’re a developer or an architect, a designer or a building engineer who has never touched a line of code, you can use Unity Reflect to transfer your BIM data into real-time experiences on a range of devices and in AR and VR.
It takes one click to bring multiple Revit models with all their BIM metadata to real-time 3D and maintain a live link between them. And because Unity at its core is a development platform, you can also create differentiated real-time BIM applications and customize the user experience by building on top of Unity Reflect with the Unity Editor.
Ultimately, Unity Reflects helps you win more projects, conduct immersive design reviews, and bridge the gap between design and construction.
Why did we build Unity Reflect?
Our conversations with hundreds of companies across the AEC industry made one thing abundantly clear: creating real-time 3D experiences has been anything but a real-time, turnkey process. Highly technical teams were required to juggle multiple tools and take dozens of steps that stretched across days and even weeks to prepare and optimize BIM data for these experiences. Even after all that painstaking effort, much of the BIM data didn’t transfer with the geometry, creating additional work.
It’s no surprise then that few design projects make it to real-time 3D, and too few BIM models make it to the construction site. In an industry where time is of the essence and where projects require thousands of iterations and collaboration across many disciplines, this existing workflow was a nonstarter for most firms.
We sought to make it easy to unlock the value of BIM data by building a seamless integration with our real-time technology.
How does it work?
Unity Reflect makes the process of bringing Revit models into real-time 3D extremely simple. After installing the Unity Reflect plugin, users simply click the Unity icon located in the toolbar of Revit to start syncing their model.
This entire process is done within the familiar confines of the BIM software that architects, designers, and building engineers already know and love. Unity Reflect’s first integration is with Revit, but that’s just the start. We plan to expand our support of Autodesk products to Navisworks in 2020, as well as other industry tools such as ArchiCAD, Rhino, and SketchUp.
Multiple designers and engineers working on different systems in one model can push their individual data sets – such as architectural design, structural, or mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) – into the same Reflect project. This BIM data is automatically federated and optimized for real-time 3D and then stored on a local machine (i.e., PC) or network server. Any computer that runs Unity Reflect can act as a server.
A cloud-hosted project management server helps a user determine which projects they have access to, making it easy to manage projects and access rights across multiple offices and departments. No 3D data is stored on this server, only project names, and permissions.
Finally, clients and collaborators can access the Unity Reflect Viewers, which are initially available on PC, supporting iOS, including Apple’s ARKit, and HTC Vive, the first VR headset to be compatible out of the box with Unity Reflect. Multiple stakeholders, from project leaders to consultants and clients, can access Viewers simultaneously on the device of their choice, making it easy to collaborate and drive consensus. The Viewers also include built-in BIM filtering to isolate various components of the project, from mechanical and plumbing to doors and windows.
We’ll continue to expand the range of devices and platforms the Viewer supports. See what’s on the roadmap. We’d love to hear your feedback so we can prioritize what matters most to you.
You do not need the Unity Editor to use Unity Reflect. However, if you are a developer, you can build on top of Unity Reflect with the Editor to create the best experience for your users. You can also use the Viewer reference application source code provided to brand the viewing experience to your liking.
How are AEC firms using Unity Reflect?
Adam Chernick and Christopher Morse from SHoP Architects’ interactive visualization team share why Unity Reflect is “a very, very welcome technology” for their firm.
The extensibility of Unity Reflect offers a powerful proposition: the ability to develop any application you need to solve your project’s specific problems.
SHoP Architects, one of our beta customers, is a New York City-based firm that has designed U.S. embassies around the world and the Uber headquarters in San Francisco. Depending on the particular issue their design teams are working on, from interior design to traffic management, Unity gives them the flexibility to build the right tool, whether that’s a desktop application, an immersive VR walkthrough, or a mobile augmented reality (AR) app.
With Unity Reflect unlocking the ability to stream data directly into a real-time experience with a single click, SHoP’s interactive visualization team can bring these projects into Unity significantly faster and with precious BIM data intact. As beta users, they built a wide range of custom AR and VR applications.
Their signature application augments the traditional process of construction administration on a landmark project – 9 DeKalb, a residential tower that will become the tallest building in Brooklyn once completed by the end of 2021. SHoP built the app to serve BIM data in a more useful way to those onsite – in this case, JDS Development Group, both the developer and general contractor for the project.
The complex project has thousands of pages of construction drawings, which show only the information SHoP specifically curates, with no context or surrounding information. The app serves a list of Views/Sheets when a user clicks on an object, and links to and displays PDF documents within SHoP’s custom Viewer iOS app.
Bringing BIM to the field in this way allows SHoP to show a much greater level of information and help people onsite make contextual judgments about conditions not visible in 2D. While this app is not yet being deployed onsite, it’s easy to see how this could reduce mistakes and save money.
Learn more about SHoP’s experience with Unity Reflect in our case study.
How much does it cost?
A Unity Reflect license costs $690 USD annually.
You need a license for every Revit user who uses the Unity Reflect plugin as well as for every user who will be developing Unity Reflect-based applications. Not every Revit user in your organization will necessarily need a license. Viewers are free, and no one needs a Unity Reflect license to access them.
Unity Reflect will begin shipping to customers on Monday, December 2. Ready to get the product into your hands? Get in touch.