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Introducing Unity MARS – a first-of-its-kind solution for intelligent AR

, 8 июня, 2020

Unity MARS (Mixed and Augmented Reality Studio) provides augmented reality (AR) creators everywhere with specialized tools and a streamlined workflow to deliver responsive, location-aware AR experiences into users’ hands.

 

Try for free

 

Unity MARS is the world’s first authoring solution that brings real-world environment and sensor data into the creative workflow. That means you can quickly build mixed and augmented reality experiences that are context-aware and responsive to physical space. And they will work in any location with any type of data.

From the beginning, we designed Unity MARS to solve the most common pain points across the entire AR development cycle: defining variables, testing scenarios, and delivering AR experiences that intelligently interact with the real world.

1. It solves the “infinite number of variables” problem

AR apps are made to be used in real-world conditions, but it’s notoriously difficult – if not impossible – to manually define all the potential variables your user might encounter when using your app. What physical objects will be in their environment, and where will they be placed? How will the user hold their phone? Will they be sitting or standing? 

And even if you know the exact physical site where they’ll be using the app, rooms can be rearranged and there’s still a multitude of human factors to consider. Unity MARS is unique as an AR authoring tool because it enables you to take into consideration all these variables, while also providing you with a visual workflow that lets you move through the prototyping phase quickly, and with very little coding.

Proxy-based workflow

To build your app, you begin with proxies that represent real-world objects. With your framework in place, you set conditions and actions on your proxies to tell the app how to respond to them.

“Fuzzy” authoring

With visual aids for “fuzzy” authoring, you define minimum and maximum measurements for real-world objects rather than coding precise values.

WYSIWYG authoring

With the WYSIWYG Simulation View, you visualize your app exactly as it will run in the real world. Instead of coding, you simply drag your content directly into the view and Unity MARS creates the appropriate proxies and conditions for you.

Customizable building blocks


To help you get started, we’ve provided Starter Templates, which cover popular AR use cases including a training tutorial application that works with all of our indoor and outdoor environment templates. And we’ll be adding more soon.

2. It seriously reduces the amount of time required to test your app

If you’ve built an AR app before, you know how difficult it is to test on a wide range of devices and in a multitude of locations. Even if you have a specific place in mind, like an event space, you may not be able to test it thoroughly beforehand, given variables like crowds and weather. In short, it’s impossible to test an AR app for every possible user reality. Since we’re not able to bend the laws of time and space, we went for the next best thing – the ability to fully test your AR experience without leaving Unity MARS.

Full testing in the authoring environment


The Simulation View provides you with environment templates that simulate data so you can test your AR experiences against a variety of indoor and outdoor rooms and spaces. That means that you don’t need to have real-world data on hand or have to physically test the experience wherever you want it to work. You can also model your own simulation environments or use photogrammetry scan data. 

3. It ensures digital content reacts to the physical world in a believable way

Once you’ve built and tested your AR experience in the Unity MARS authoring environment, you need to make sure it will react intelligently whenever and wherever the end-user interacts with it. Unity MARS enables that. Its runtime logic adapts responsively to the real world, which is especially important for training and remote-guidance apps that must “understand” where physical objects are located. 

It intelligently responds to the physical world


You can use any type of real-world data in your app, including surfaces, images, body-tracking (coming soon), and more. The always-on query system gives your app contextually relevant behavior based on the user’s surroundings. 

By addressing the toughest challenges in each phase of AR app development, Unity MARS gives creators the ability to finally deliver AR experiences that live up to the end user’s expectations: digital content that seems to live in and react to the real world.

Early adopters of Unity MARS

While developing Unity MARS, we engaged with a number of innovative studios eager to literally get their hands on this new technology. One of them is Sugar Creative, a leading studio based in the UK recognized for their cutting-edge AR and VR experiences. 

In partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Sugar Creative used Unity MARS to create Dr. Seuss’s ABC AR, an app that enhances how children learn to read by bringing the Dr. Seuss characters to life. Will Humphrey, their lead creative and studio manager, has this to say, “Unity MARS has been the toolkit that has allowed us to realize a new horizon, a shift in the potential of immersive experiences by enabling them to become truly dynamic. Put simply, Unity MARS is adding intelligence to AR.” 

Other developers working with early versions of Unity MARS have created a variety of Augmented Reality applications such as sales and marketing experiences for an auto showroom, and a training application for factory workers. Regardless of the use case, they all concur that Unity MARS is ushering in the next generation of AR content by giving them more creative freedom and flexibility.

Get started on your own responsive AR experiences

As well as the features and benefits explained above, Unity MARS leverages our Auggie-award-winning AR Foundation framework to enable you to build an experience once in Unity and deploy it across multiple mobile and wearable AR devices. This authoring workflow fundamentally changes not only how you create AR experiences, but also elevates the quality of the experiences you deliver. 

You can try Unity MARS for free for 45 days.

 

Try for free


For more information about Unity MARS

Visit our Unity MARS page, and be sure to register for our upcoming webinars: Getting Started with Unity MARS on June 17 at 10:00 am PT and AMA with the Unity MARS Dev Team on July 2 at 9:00 am PT.

42 replies on “Introducing Unity MARS – a first-of-its-kind solution for intelligent AR”

I guess I understand why people are upset about this being released as a paid addon because that hasn’t been very clear in the mainstream presentations for it. However, I’m glad my pro license isn’t more expensive to pay for this tool if I’m not going to be using it. If I do end up working on an AR project, the price is something to take into account.

It does concern me if this is the direction the whole engine ends up going but MARS seems like a massive set of tools for a specific subset of developers.

If it was an additional cost for a suite of tools that nearly all unity developers would use, that would be really worrying.

Hi guys. First of all, I am not a Unity employee, so don’t consider my opinion biased. I see why most of the people here are disappointed.
But let’s take a look at the other side. I am part of the dev team working on the AR game, and we’ll probably try out this new MARS feature in one of the sprints. And if we see that it really saves more dev hours/costs than 600 USD per year, why not use it? Consider it the same as the Asset Store package. Sometimes you can buy a piece of code per 20 bucks or you can spend 500 dollars writing it from scratch. The same here, if it a worthy investment, why not save extra money and dev time?
On the other hand, I remember how Unity was acquiring ProBuilder, PolyBrush, Grids, and other Assets to make it free for everyone. So it’s a kind of balancing between giving everything for free or selling stuff. But I am more than convinced, that if Unity will see that MARS is selling badly or doesn’t meet expectations of the devs, they will make wise decisions either improving it even more or reduce the price or something.

P. S. Lot’s of people just getting crazy from that UE5 demo they showed. But seriously, they renamed DXR to Lumin, made dynamic ProOptimizer that exists for over 10 years (hi DirectX 10 and tesselation lol), and made the girl wonder around the static photo scanned environment with a flashlight talking about «revolutionary» specular highlights (wtf PBR — 17 years), sound occlusion (Steam Audion / True Audio — 6 years) and few rocks falling from above. And it’s when Unity shows some insane VFX and shader work in the Heretic… It seems like some people really don’t get the difference between marketing and new features.

You have valid points but the issue here is while Unity has been going through this major transition to a better engine many tool have become extremely unstable and user unfriendly.. this is expect but people feel frustrated that a tool that can alleviate some of these pain points will cost them an extra $600 a year.

Agreed, I work with VR/AR, and this is the same case of Unity Reflect. It’s a very niche solution, directed for few companies and business to save development time and speed up production.

MARS can become free for all IF the marketing grows and Unity feels the need to establish as a competitive AR content production platform (pressed by big competitors like Adobe, Autodesk, Google, Apple, etc).

PS: About UE5 demo, that’s exactly my thoughts! I was very disappointed, felt like going back 5 years in time.

Alrighty then … I won’t be using MARS. Too bad since I’ve been excited about the development.

Charging for this feature seems completely bunkers, for the reasons already mentioned by others. Notably, 1) AR is an experimental field that hosts a vast amount of indie projects that rarely make anyone rich, 2) Unreal, and 3) AR Foundation has been underdeveloped for a while (crucially, AR Remoting) making it painful to watch resources being poured into a feature for the few.

I see the move of charging for MARS as another sign of an increasing money hungriness at Unity, perhaps out of greed (expensive leaders and board members), or perhaps as a consequence of the immense expansion the company has made in recent years, requiring a huge turnover to just keep them afloat.

Whatever the reason for the pricing strategy, if it continues at this rate, I will have to start looking for alternatives. I am a paying Plus user using Unity for cultural productions. The pricing of a Plus license is already at its pain limit, having an array of other licenses to pay as well.

Hugely disappointed. Not in the feature (that stuff rocks Timoni & team), but in the abandonment of the idea of «democratizing» the engine.

Agree with everyone else regarding the pricing and Unity’s general direction. What happened to democratising things? This is a game engine so desperate for money that it debases itself by advertising its ability to create «gambling» apps so that — according to an official Unity brochure — developers can help users «spend big money» (yes, that’s a quote).

It’s not the CEO’s fault though… the blame lies squarely on the board members…. because the year is 2020 and the board doesn’t have a problem with having a CEO accused of multiple counts of sexual harassment. It’s easier to turn a blind eye when big money is involved. Good luck with the IPO.

PS — I’ve yet to receive a response about my request to cancel my subscription.

This is very disappointing, and unfortunately the last nail in the coffin for our company. We’ll be moving over to Unreal for all new projects, and cancelling our plans with Unity as soon as possible.

Your paywalls make no sense in 2020. I mean, you even put dark mode behind a paywall, which is just sad.

Well.. it looks like Unity got more and more greedy over the last years, much like Apple. Less power for more money.
All that’s left to say after 15 years of Unity: Good-Bye greedy Unity, Hello free Unreal Engine 5!
*sigh*

It is a sad moment. Your way of milking ppl for money is just sad. Besides the fact that half of dev time you spend on hunting unity bugs, you never know if a feature will work as advertised. Unity is developing something buggy, throws is to the public so that we can debug it for you and then it charges for it. I’m afraid of promising something to my clients because you never know if it works properly. Unity has became a joke. You need to spend so much money on assets to get a somehow working engine and on top of that so many pay walls. Unity has been transformed into a broken engine that wants more and more money for no real gain. Your features are always broken, always full of bugs and more expensive by the day. You are like the Microsoft of the 90’s. Is there a wonder that most users are switching to other engines?

Stopping all pro licenses now. I don’t want to pay for a piece of software that never gets bug fixes only get bunch of nonsensical features I don’t need. bye bye yall

Same sentiments as the rest of the comments….it should be part of unity pro, or added into the pricing model, free until earning reached or tied in to a commercial use contract…..For a small team its not worth it, its cheaper to outsource this dev to places like Jakarta.

In a known environment, like a museum, is there a way to place an anchor to place a model instead of depending on image or object recognition? The anchor’s position would be saved through google cloud anchor.

Hi Minh, we are working on persistent anchor support with partners, but that functionality has not been released yet. The current method to do this is outside of MARS, directly with the Google Cloud Anchor API in your case.

I dont know if this is that much desirable to spend so much resource on…
Not better focusing on improving let’s say, Navmesh and agents behaviour like local avoidance which is not working at all which disable Unity for RTS development using plug and work features, ppls end up using *pathfinding…
I think this is waay more desirable if not by developers then by end customers which 9/10 times prefer trying out new RTS game than those AR abominations.

The fact it’s difficult to understand what problem(?) MARS actually solves, means it’s a failure already. Not to mention the subscription requirement, a total joke.
Unity had better times when David Helgason was at the helm. This company needs reorganization.

> Unity had better times when David Helgason was at the helm.

Wholeheartedly agree. I could kind of understand David’s decision, and I could kind of understand Nicholas’ decision. But those decisions had an effect on all of us, and it’s not an effect I like.

Unity Technologies should be back in the hands of David, Joe and Nicholas instead of going IPO.

That said, I actually think MARS is kind of an interesting thing and certainly something pointing towards the future. But an extra-subscription? Certainly not. With the direction Unity is going, I’m trying to reduce dependencies instead of adding new ones.

You guys really seem to be desperate for money. Finally having a trouble keeping up? Maybe you should reconsider your pricing model?

This would have been the type of thing that if released for free as part of the main engine (as it really should be), would make unity stand out from the competition for a while again.

lol 600€/year
Unity get’s greedy …
like I’ll said some years ago…
since David is gone… Unity is on free fall to me…
do something better for the people who pay you!
what is about better mobile performance ???
battery drain on Mac & PC with a empty project…
I’m paying user from first day…. when it was Mac OS only… that where better times…
now your focus is on making fast money with windows machines…
and listen to a few AAA DEV’s … because there are famous studios
Unity listen and focus on those instead listen to the people who pay Unity’s bill and all those who working there… it’s sad experience… but all I’ll have written earlier when EA took over has become true…
just wondering when they stop supporting Mac OS X…
I’m very happy that there are other engines now that are same or better … just different…
do my half mobile work since the EA takeover on Unreal editor…
not sooo comfortable if you used to Unity editor…
but now it’s free and free for my work I’ll do…
since Unity want’s more and more money for nothing more than before…
I’ll slowly switch because the day will come…
Unity is too big… too many people «working» or let say are on the bill of unity…
I’ll know what I’m talking about… I’ll know a few dev’s and was also there…. and there….

first those AR editor is too late and too expensive for a niche….
did u fix the performance problems on mobile???
battery drain … optimize the base engine…?
or does it still suck so much cpu and battery power on mobile that a android phone is empty in 2-3 hours?
where should we use it???
still don’t get it… because the Unity engine drains the battery on Mobile more than other engines I’ve tested…
do you self a flavor and do a test….
make a emthy project and export to iOS and Android…. -> see how much it cost… also on Mac/PC
now do same with Unreal editor and export…. compare … surprise !

Seriously Unity?
Making another payed subscription over the Pro subscriptions??
REALLY???
You guys have lost your mind.

Same question… Is it possible to use MARS or the AR Foundation on HTML WEB based apps? .. Unity can take the HTML market now that Unreal is leaving it.. charging so much is not good.. but is better than leaving it.. But is it possible to do a WEB based AR SLAM tracking with unity?

Hey folks, I answered questions around pricing on the forums and so will be repeating myself a bit here. First, thank you for commenting, and thank you for caring about MARS.

We have mentioned that we’ll be charging for MARS in talks and meetings with users, but based on your comments, we haven’t covered our audiences and made the message as clear as we should have. I personally apologize for that.

MARS is categorized in the same tier as Reflect—high end, professional-grade workflows and systems that solve a huge pain point for AR devs. You can still use Unity to make great AR for free without MARS, but we noticed there was often a huge difference between what people wanted to build (flexible layout systems, for example, or automatic layout) vs what they could actually build with the time & budget they had.

I understand that $600 can be onerous for some budgets, but for most of the folks we talked to who were making projects where MARS would slice entire months off the dev cycle, it was worth the price.

In any case, you have a 45 day free trial to see if MARS is really worth the cost. If it turns out it isn’t that valuable to you and your project, but you have other AR-related workflows or systems that are more important, please let us know—our roadmap is largely dictated by you, the users.

I think the biggest issue here is the competition. Epic keeps releasing free tools, while Unity is putting everything behind different paywalls. It’s hard to compete with free, but the way it is going Unity is becoming rather expensive with the path Unreal Engine is going. I think people would have been less upset if you made new paid products part of the Pro subscription.

Unity was making great strides to match Unreal Engine, but I think Epic is going to make it real hard for people to choose or keep choosing Unity. Just look at how easily a lot of people left customers behind and went to the EGS over Steam despite having promised a Steam key in their Kickstarter. I think Unity should be a good alternative to Unreal Engine, not the more expensive one.

Hi Timoni

Your point is certainly a fair one.

But there is one crucial thing you should be taking in mind — mixed reality is still at its early stages and the user base and developer base is still low.

I am a massive believer/supporter of this technology and was lucky enough to work with 3 different AR glasses at R&D phase building a Unity based AR SDK. We had thoughts of developing something like MARS back then (before work on MARS was published) as it was extremely apparent such a tool is a must for high quality mixed reality experiences.

I am sorry to say I think not giving this tool with some kind of unlimited time free option will severely hinder the process of AR getting into main stream — developers need to try it out and have an unlimited time to do so. The mixed world is still being built.
What is surprising for me is I actually adore Unity for doing what no game engine has done before Unity — giving developers the freedom to create games and experience no matter their level and their funds.

I would hope you are still giving this a thought. I think you will actually earn (much) more money in the medium to long term if you change the current plan — please recall what made Unity what it is today.

Thanks for listening and cheers

I feel very disheartening, even though im not a AR developer and Im a paid subscriber making no money from my projects.

Its the philosophy shift we seen in Unity the past 5 years, it no longer feels like an engine to democratize game development. It was the cornerstone that set Unity apart and crated the indie market. This goes beyond MARS for me, it about saving our engine. I say our engine because we the community have played a huge part in the development , just look at the beta forums and see how much personal time people are poring into the engine to improve it.

Unity PLEASE SAVE OUR ENGINE

Hi Timoni, is it possible to create with Unity an HTML AR application capable of working in iOS and Android? AR Foundation accepts both,, but I am not sure if its possible to develop a Web application with that.. I found only the 8th wall solution for AR tracking via Web…

what a meme, $600/seat/year (excl. tax) for a feature that should be part of the engine / part of AR Foundation — all of this while the competition isn’t sleeping.

I’m genuinely disappointed in Unity, because at a Unite Event last year I was told that we’d get tools for the editor to better test/prepare AR Foundation content and now we have to pay another $50/month for the privilege. This feels like a bait-and-switch.

Hey Raiden, I’m sorry you’re disappointed. To be clear, MARS uses AR Foundation, but ARF belongs to the XR Platforms team. MARS has a host of features—sim view, proxies, conditions, compare, companion apps—that should vastly shorten your iteration time. Even if you don’t want to pay, I encourage you to take advantage of the free trial and see if it helps you out or sparks new ideas.

disappointed is an understatement — I feel nickel-and-dimed and moves like this are actively pushing a lot of people into looking for alternatives (your competitors, who are making huge steps and quite literally free)

this feels like it should just be part of Plus/Pro to make it actually Plus/Pro (instead of just the dark color scheme/shaders/option to remove the logo).

This fragmentation of the «package» feels like EA that has discovered Microtransactions, DLC and Season Passes — which I guess is fitting with John Riccitiello as your CEO.

«You can try Unity MARS for free for 45 days» I was under the impression that MARS was an engine feature like HDRP or URP. How much will it cost on top of my pro subscription

Im a bit shocked by this, as a subscriber I supported the price increase happily but this feels like a engine feature, is our future pay per seat per package

Hey Sam, apologies we weren’t more clear about this. MARS includes many features, not just one additional feature, and will be continually built out as an authoring suite.

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