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At the AutoTech Summit, thought leaders and innovators from the automotive and transportation industries shared how they’ve leveraged Unity’s real-time development platform to redefine the way they design, manufacture, and market their vehicles, thus transforming their businesses. Most importantly, attendees took away from the Summit: lessons from real-time configuration tools, in-vehicle applications, and XR experiences that help shape consumer perceptions.

REWIND and the digital dealership

REWIND, HP, and Intel revealed cutting-edge VR tools they’ve developed for the automotive industry to better tailor the sales process to Millennials, who are doing more of their shopping research online rather than in store. In fact, 88% of Millennials use the internet to research a car purchase according to AutoTrader.

These industry innovators provide car manufacturers the ability to control the narrative across the marketing process, beginning with the earliest stages of customer exploration continuing to presenters at dealerships, and ultimately into the homes of customers.

It starts in the consideration phase, where customers identify their wants, in turn providing data – through in-app interaction – that a dealer needs to improve selling through smart tools and analytics, and finally assisting the customer to make faster and more satisfying decisions. Imagine, no longer do salespeople have to wait for someone to walk into the store. Instead, they’re now empowered to start conversations with their audiences from the very beginning during the online shopping process.

Redefining the online vehicle configurator through the power of real-time

Online vehicle configurators are an accepted and expected part of today’s online car buying experience. While these configurators offer shoppers a degree of personalization, they are usually limited to a small number of options, and images must be rendered in advance.

Lexus and its creative agency, Team One, wanted to explore how the power of real-time with Unity’s development platform could allow them to push boundaries and even redefine the meaning of “vehicle configurator.”

In partnership with Unity, Team One undertook the challenge of building a true real-time vehicle configurator for the Lexus UX, Lexus’ bold, new, hyper-connected crossover that is due to release in December of this year. Team One’s vision of a real-time car configurator includes:

  • An engaging experience with realistic environments, motion graphics, and interactivity
  • Deep and insightful analytics to guide the marketing process at all levels
  • An omni-channel strategy where a common model drives the creation of all marketing content

Exploring the in-vehicle experience of the future

As we increasingly move toward a world where someone – or something, in the case of self-driving cars – is doing the driving for us, automakers and Mobility-as-a-Service companies are starting to explore the in-vehicle experience of the future.

Ridesharing company Lyft and Emmy-nominated immersive content studio REWIND shared how they tackled the challenge of imagining a backseat entertainment experience to engage and delight Lyft riders at scale and solved a difficult technical challenge in the process – how to get AR working in the back of a moving vehicle.

Typically, the development of spatial experiences relies on the IMU – the Inertial Measurement Unity. However,  relying on the IMU in a moving vehicle means characters fly off into outer space. REWIND shared how they were able to workaround reliance on the IMU by using smart camera tech and the car’s GPS, the thinking being: if the device knows where it is relative to the car and the car knows where it is relative to the world, the experience can play out as it should. Ultimately, they arrived at an AR solution that was a combination of Unity power, internal scripts/plugins, ARKit, ARCore, and Vuforia.

Once they solved how to keep characters tethered to the world, the REWIND and Lyft creative teams once again turned to the world of gaming for inspiration and collaborated with legendary creator Bay Raitt to create a character and story Lyft riders would love…a whimsical, magical tour guide. The back of the car was turned into a new kind of stage, where the digital tour guide controls the lights in the real world,  reacts to the rider behavior, and is all controlled by a dedicated iPad in the hands of the rider.

This is a great example of the type of innovation and user experience that Unity’s flexibility enables and is a precursor to a lot more exploration and innovation in the years to come. As more people share rides and self-driving cars get closer to reality, there are huge opportunities for imaginative, engaging in-car entertainment and experiences.

We revealed SimViz Solution Toolkits to enable autonomous vehicle simulation

Using simulated scenarios for testing in the automotive industry is a well-established practice. However, the scenarios previously used to train, for example, automated emergency braking systems, are insufficient for autonomous vehicle training, which require highly complex simulations to train AI to essentially behave like a capable human driver.

A key part of autonomous vehicle training simulation is the simulation environment and Unity is a natural choice for developing these environments. It provides engineering teams all the features and toolsets used in creating other types of rich interactive content, such as lighting and physics, particle and weather systems, animation, machine learning and more, while enabling them to create environments that are rich in sensory and physical complexity, provide compelling cognitive challenges, and support dynamic multi-agent interaction.

To help engineering teams focused on autonomous vehicle development a leg up on environment creation, we’ve created a set of SimViz Solution Toolkits – custom packages that provide everything you need to get started and accelerate the building of your simulation environments, so you can focus on autonomous simulation and scaling your development.

Early access to the sample SimViz Scenarios and Sensors Solution Templates are now available by request, so you can get started experimenting and building.

Showcasing intuitive 3D content creation for designers

Gravity Sketch, a multi-platform 3D-creation tool that enables you to immerse yourself in your design, dazzled the audience by showing how to create natural and intuitive real-world experiences in 3D.

Built with Unity, Gravity Sketch is eliminating barriers between your inspiration and 3D modeling. They showcased their user-focused development process that enables the most expressive creative tool with useful NURBS-based output, leading to an iterative process that resolves creative needs and workflow requirements of designers.

Just recently, Car Design News hosted a webinar showcasing how Gravity Sketch and Unity empower creative expression in 3D design workflows. In the webinar, James Robbins, Senior Designer with the Digital Modeling and Visualization group at Honda R&D, joined Unity’s Frank Naggies to explore how VR creation tools are putting the designer back at the center.  Watch the on-demand recording to learn how designers are using Gravity Sketch throughout their design process and the integration in the wider workflow.

Watch the webinar on-demand

It was such an exciting event! The AutoTech Summit also included presentations from industry leaders such as BMW, and we’ll be releasing session videos in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!