Arizona-based software developer has established tools for HoloLens in construction
Unity is expanding its capabilities in mixed reality (MR) and HoloLens for construction with the acquisition of Arizona-based VisualLive. The company’s AR/MR software, which includes HoloLive for HoloLens, will augment the capabilities of Unity’s AEC focused real-time 3D software, Unity Reflect.
According to Julien Faure, GM of verticals at Unity, the acquisition will allow Unity to better connect the field with the design office, bringing BIM data via AR/MR to drive better quality assurance and project tracking.
“This will fundamentally change how design reviews, construction planning, field inspections, and facilities management are conducted,” he said.
Saeed Eslami, CEO and Founder of VisualLive added, “VisualLive has excelled in creating a software solution that works on multiple devices to enable field workers to overlay CAD/BIM models onto the jobsite in AR within a few minutes to review the design, validate against the existing conditions, verify install completion, create reports, and collaborate with the rest of the team in real time. Together with Unity, we can expand the platform’s capabilities and scale globally.”
AEC Magazine’s thoughts
This is an interesting move from Unity, as it looks to play catch up with companies like Bentley Systems and Trimble, who already have established solutions for Microsoft HoloLens in construction.
The Unity real-time engine might have built-in capabilities for mixed reality, and there were already plans to add Hololens support to Unity Reflect. However, Unity’s AEC offering lacks the construction-focused functionality of its peers. And while we expect VisualLive will continue as a product its own right for the time being, we imagine the longer term plan is to bolster the construction-focused MR capabilities of Unity Reflect.
VisualLive has plug-ins for Revit and Navisworks, but Unity is unlikely to use these directly. While it may draw on VisuaLive’s knowledge in file optimisation for HoloLens, Unity Reflect already has very tight integration with Revit and Navisworks thanks to its partnership with Autodesk.
The main value of the acquisition will likely come from established workflows for inspection, constructability planning, design/review, design validation, and facility management.
The VisualLive software includes functionality for the automatic placement of BIM models in their real-world location, plus QA/QC for construction verification, complete with tools for capturing and reporting on issues.
Of course, Unity will also get access to VisualLive’s AEC customer base, which is reported to be over 1,500 strong. We’re interested to see how this develops.