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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 4.

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

 

Get started with Unity Reflect

 

What is Unity Reflect?

Courtesy of SHoP Architects

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 and BIM 360 in 2020, as well as other industry tools such as ArchiCAD, Rhino, and SketchUp. Learn more about our plans with BIM 360 in Autodesk’s AEC keynote (starts at 36:45). 

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.

 

Talk to our team about Unity Reflect

 

Check out more information about Unity Reflect on our blog, FAQ page, and product page. Learn how to use Unity Reflect with this free course on our official learning platform or book an in-person training workshop for your team.

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  1. I remember, back when Unity used to be a game engine, it had features that weren’t in perpetual beta status, and they were released on time, with documentation.

  2. Jelmer: There has been a service to bring IFC to Unity for couple of years. It is called Tridify. They have plugin in AssetStore.

  3. I personally would love for unity to focus on support for nuget so we can utilize other .net standard libraries with just one click. Just like how they are working with their package manager. (also how visual studio works)

  4. Why only with Revit?! Why not IFC? Now we can’t use it for a 5km long infrastructure project.

    1. Jelmer: There has been a service to bring IFC to Unity for couple of years. It is called Tridify. They have plugin in AssetStore.

    2. Unity is working on supporting other BIM as part of the Reflect Roadpmap. You can take a look at what is in development here: http://tiny.cc/AECroadmap

    3. Unity is working on supporting other BIM as part of their AEC Roadmap. You can take a look at what is under development here: https://portal.productboard.com/ryk149xi2qtmns5iehpngb6u/tabs/4-in-development

  5. “Unity was founded to democratize game development” — David Helgason, Unity’s previous CEO.

    Is it just me or is Unity moving away from their founding reason more and more every day recently?
    Feels to me like they now want to democratize all the industries and start cluttering the engine more and more.

    1. I don’t think Unity has deviated. The scope has just widened. This is just another use case that uses game design to accomplish their end goals. To be fair, they are also have continued to add features that are aimed squarely at game development. You should take a look at release notes every now and then. Unity is doing something noble by realising the vision that Dave Helgasen had, but they’ve got to keep the lights on and pay dividends. Architecture as an industry pays quite a but more than the indie game dev community. If you however want the purity of an open source tool that has no corporate interests and only serves the interests of indie game devs, there are options out there and you should explore those. I do need to say though that me might not have seen those options as quickly as they sprung up if Unity did not set out on this mission to democratise game development. Trust me, I’ve been around a while and I’ve seen how Unity has helped transform the entire industry. Kinda like what Tesla has done with Electric cars.

    2. Agreed, at this point they should really seperate it into seperate engines for seperate goals with seperate teams. Would be nice to have people focusing on the GAME engine for GAME related stuff, instead of everyone being torn in different directions. There is some crossover, but in general there mostly isnt.

      1. Most new features will be coming in via the Package Manager, so a lot of the unneeded ones can most likely be excluded. I mean, even timeline is a package.

      2. You know, UE4 did that stuff and they eventually merged everything back to the single UE4 solution.

    3. Partnering with Autodesk has little to do with democratizing an industry.

    4. These non-game articles are very important to us who work in the AEC industry. In my last two jobs, I’ve been using the unity game engine for industrial use (indoor positioning, oil & gas, training) and I do care a lot about these AEC-related blog posts. A quick job search shows significant users of unity are non-gaming companies.