It’s not long ago that Pokémon Go hunters were being scolded for venturing into a fenced-off construction sites, as they pursued virtual characters within the augmented reality mobile game.
But for the creators of the software behind the gaming phenomenon, it’s an industry they’re also looking to break into.
Unity Technologies is striking out from gaming and applying the same technology to the architecture, engineering and construction space.
The success of the augmented reality mobile game, which has more than one billion downloads and grossed over $US 3 billion worldwide, is providing the Silicon Valley software development company with an enviable pivot point into new B2B markets.
Speaking in Melbourne at the Deloitte’s Disruptors in Tech forum, Unity Technologies’ Sebastien Thevenet explained the company’s journey from gaming towards real world infrastructure projects.
“We come from gaming, so when people see us, they think, ah Unity is a game engine, but we are more than that now,” says the head of Unity’s Australia and New Zealand operations.
“It’s a real time 3D development platform,” says Mr Thevenet.
“It’s amazing, we discover new companies doing things differently with Unity and we are like, ah OK, you can do that, with Unity, that’s cool,” he says.
“We learnt from our customers and started to ramp up our team internally.”
“We’re working on having products for every vertical.”
Unity is set to launch Unity Reflect, an interactive 3D experience for architecture, engineering and construction professionals to unlock the value of building information modelling data.
“This is about collaboration, multiple engineers from different disciplines working on assets, so this brings all the data in real time and you can see the changes,” says Unity’s Business Development Manager, Shivang Jaiswa.
“But most importantly when you’re building these assets in real time, there are a lot of stakeholders, who are not technical, but are part of the decision making process. This gives the capability to get a view of what is being built and to interact.
“When you’re designing huge projects, a small mistake, like when designing a simple beam, this can lead to multi-million dollars’ worth of costs that will come much later down the track when you’re building,” he says.
AR for DIY projects?
And while the first adopters of AR technology will be major infrastructure initiatives, Mr Jaiswa says it will go on to transform operations for small and medium businesses.
“Even home builders, they’ve been working on how they can create applications so they can interact with the consumer.”
However, Mr Thevenet says there’s still significant ways to go before we see most average suburban builders using the technology.
“There is still a lot of work to be done.
“With what has been forecasted, yeah it’s a billion dollar industry, but when? Maybe five years, ten years down the track it will become mainstream,” he says.
“We are doing a lot of work to make sure we are on top of the market.”
“AR is still in its infancy and we are yet to see everything that’s possible with this technology.”