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Unity Reflect beta release adds new viewer to improve user experience and workflow

, September 28, 2020


New beta version of Unity Reflect delivers a user-friendly stand-alone application for the design and construction community while improving on development workflows.

Unity Reflect has always provided a platform for developers to customize and build their own applications. Over the last few releases, we’ve concentrated on enhancing the user experience and making collaboration in real-time 3D accessible for end-users, such as designers, building owners and occupants, and contractors.

With this beta release, Unity Reflect delivers a stand-alone application experience for those who want a solution that simply solves problems right out of the box with the click of a button. Now, when you need to review a design or coordinate a project, you can easily bridge the gap between your technical and non-technical stakeholders. 

The new improvements and features deliver on our promise to bring both a valuable stand-alone application and a great tool for developers in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.

New beta viewer and improved user interface


The user experience is a vital part of any application. In this new beta release, Unity Reflect doubles down on its efforts to accelerate the design review process and bridge the gap between technical designers and the people who occupy the buildings. That starts with a sneak peek version of the completely redesigned Unity Reflect Viewer for Windows, including updates to navigation and a better user experience to make it easier for new users to jump right into Unity Reflect and intuitively navigate a model.

Model navigation

Navigation has been redesigned to be smoother and more responsive both inside and moving around the building exterior space, with a particular focus on the navigation of large models. We added Variable Fly mode, which will gradually increase fly speed as you navigate to enable you to cover large distances faster.

Faster model streaming

Unity Reflect users are always pushing for larger and more detailed models that go beyond device capabilities. The new Unity Reflect Viewer includes a method for streaming models progressively based on object priority, which is determined by a series of factors such as camera position, visibility, occlusion, distance, size, and more. Objects are initially represented as transparent boxes and are replaced as they are downloaded.

Models open 50% faster and start streaming in up to 95% faster, rather than waiting for the entire model to download.

Project sharing and access

While in beta, we had the opportunity to stress test our cloud service to ensure its reliability and up-time. We’re excited to announce that cloud hosting is now out of beta and available to all Unity Reflect users. Critical for model sharing when stakeholders aren’t on the same network, you can share models on any device with users outside of your network for greater collaboration.

Sun study tool

The sun slider and widgets have been reworked to be more accessible, making it easier to see the effects of the changing sun position.

Source code and updated systems

While we concentrated on creating a better experience for project collaborators and the design and construction community, we also wanted to improve the customization workflow. To do that, and to future-proof Unity Reflect, we updated most of the Unity Reflect Viewer’s systems to stay at the forefront of new technologies developed at Unity.

Source code availability

The Unity Reflect Viewer source code is now available through GitHub, making it easier to develop and maintain applications over time. To get started, check out our API overview and public GitHub.

Universal Rendering Pipeline

The biggest change in the new viewer is that we switched from Built-In Render Pipeline to Universal Render Pipeline (URP). This improves performance across all devices and gives more flexibility to implement new features. It’s also better aligned with High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), making it even easier to switch between the two pipelines.

Unity MARS

While developing for augmented reality (AR), you can now integrate with Unity MARS to greatly reduce iteration time and streamline your workflow. If you have a Unity MARS license, you can use the Unity MARS Simulation system to visualize and test your AR content against a variety of scenes and scenarios using real-world data or simulated data. The Simulation system helps to ensure that your AR experience works smoothly in your desired location. Note that a Unity MARS license is not required to develop AR functionality in Unity Reflect.

A new Unity Reflect Viewer

We’ve brought huge changes to the Unity Reflect Viewer to deliver a user-friendly stand-alone application and rebuilt the foundations to accelerate future development and ensure sustainable practices.

Have a feature you want to see? View our Unity Reflect roadmap to submit ideas of your own, vote, and see what’s in development, planned, and under consideration.

Join our Unity for AEC forum to get product support, troubleshoot problems, share projects and feedback, and discuss Unity for AEC.


Try Unity Reflect for free


5 replies on “Unity Reflect beta release adds new viewer to improve user experience and workflow”

My friends told me about the website I’ve found there a lot of samples of various academic papers. It helped me to write my own assignments.

@Roryone – In their native format, BIM or parametric CAD models used in AEC projects need to accommodate a wider range of flexibility to accommodate realtime updates and retained metadata to the model over time. Pure visualization doesn’t need this level of flexibility, but the BIM files still import with fairly complex / high density meshes, so the challenge is to balance performance with realism. Back in the day, we used to ‘remesh’ or ‘retop’ these models with cleaner and reduced geometry so it would play nice with Unity, particularly when it comes to lighting and framerate performance. However, this process has to be done manually with each revision or update – which isn’t feasible within the very dynamic and constantly changing AEC design development or schematic design process. This becomes particularly challenging since one of the main purposes of realtime visualization is to improve the design – to catch errors, to make revisions, etc. Allowing for realtime design changes that can then be brought back into the native BIM format has always been the challenge. The ideal scenario is to figure out ways to retain the model complexity and metadata, but determine compromises in lighting and materialism to allow for realtime visualization in Unity. I haven’t been following Reflect carefully, but I would imagine it is taking a combination of steps to address this challenge – tools or automation to reduce BIM complexity, retaining a dynamic read/write connection to the source file, while also introducing lighting and material options to achieve reasonable realtime performance. One other challenge to add to this is the fact that generally AEC models are only needed for a relatively small amount of time. There are generally a limited number of stakeholders who wish to visualize the design, and after construction is complete, the virtual visualization doesn’t have as much value. This becomes a cost / benefit challenge, where there’s only so much time or money to be spent in this process optimizing a model only to be used a few times and discarded. In a nutshell, this is why AEC models generally don’t look as realistic as environments that are purpose built for realtime performance. Artists building environments for a game that will could be used by thousands / millions of people over the course of many years can justify spending larger amounts of money optimizing every detail of a game environment, making it highly realistic. There’s an entirely different set of economic considerations for AEC models, which is what I believe Reflect is trying to address. Just my 2 cents!

Why is it that, despite the awesome graphics capability Unity, the images posted from AEC projects always look like graphics from the early 1990’s?

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