Unity acquires AEC AR tech vendor VisualLive

Some consolidation in the AEC augmented reality sector as Autodesk collaborator Unity acquires US-based VisualLive.

Unity logoUnity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D content, has announced (9 March 2021) the acquisition (value and terms not disclosed) of VisualLive, an Arizona, US-based technology company enabling the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry to reduce costs and increase efficiency by visualising and collaborating in augmented reality (AR).

VisualLive logoVisualLive’s technology is complementary to Unity Reflect, the immersive collaboration and development platform that connects people, project stages, and data across the digital building lifecycle. The deal expands Unity’s strategic growth in the AEC industry. Julien Faure, GM of Verticals at Unity, says:

“Unity’s real-time 3D platform transforms every stage of the AEC lifecycle. With Unity Reflect, AEC professionals can unlock building information modeling (BIM) data through immersive realtime experiences. Adding VisualLive to our portfolio better allows us to connect the field with the design office, bringing BIM data via augmented and mixed reality to drive better quality assurance and project tracking. This will fundamentally change how design reviews, construction planning, field inspections, and facilities management are conducted.”

VisualLive useUnity says the current process of job site walkthroughs for construction and facilities management is fraught with human errors, and the promise of reality capture (the process of replicating the physical world and putting it into virtual reality) is time-consuming and expensive. VisualLive ensures users can instantly inspect and validate designs to prevent costly mistakes.

VisualLive employees will join Unity from VisualLive’s headquarters in Scottsdale. Saeed Eslami, CEO and founder of VisualLive, says:

“We’re incredibly proud of the rapid growth and market adoption of VisualLive products by the AEC industry since our founding in 2017. 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.”

Unity and Autodesk

Unity is used by top AEC companies to streamline real-world architecture, engineering, and construction workflows. Since announcing a collaboration with Autodesk in 2018, Unity has grown to support a suite of Autodesk products while also enabling Autodesk users to access real-time 3D experiences on a range of devices in AR and VR to bridge the gap between design and construction. Unity Reflect connects all project stakeholders, regardless of platform/device, model size, or geolocation to create real-time collaborative environments. This facilitates faster, more impactful decision-making throughout the entire building and infrastructure lifecycle.

VisualLive

VisualLive says it is the AEC industry’s leading platform offering easy-to-use and off-the-shelf augmented reality software on Microsoft HoloLens (HoloLive), and Android and iOS mobile devices (MobiLive) for design, engineering, and construction companies. Using VisualLive’s Autodesk Revit or Naviswork plugins or web uploader interface (with 70+ 3D file formats supported), users can push large BIM/CAD model files to mobile, tablet, or HoloLens headset as simple as one-click for augmented reality overlay on-site with no coding. VisualLive allows real-time 3D visualisation, collaboration, and field-to-office communication. VisualLive applications are currently being used in all stages of construction projects such as design review, coordination, constructability planning, fabrication QA/QC, install verification, field inspection, and facility management.

Update (16 March 2021)

Vectorworks partnership with Unreal Engine creates real-time rendering connection to Twinmotion

While on the subject of Unity, Vectorworks 2021 Service Pack 3 users now have a high-quality method for exporting their 3D BIM and design models to Twinmotion®, Unreal® Engine and other Epic Games products that support the Datasmith file format. Vectorworks has utilized the Datasmith SDK to ensure greater fidelity of the model export to these real-time rendering applications. Vectorworks director of product technology Dave Donley said:

“Our partnership with Unreal Engine is a dynamic solution to Vectorworks users allowing them to create real-time renderings of their model with open and advanced real-time 3D creation tools such as Unreal Editor and Twinmotion. It’s an amazing opportunity to bring this partnership to our users and we’re confident they will enjoy creating cutting-edge renderings and models.”

“Vectorworks’ new integrations with Twinmotion and Unreal Engine helps users go from creating models to deploying stunning real-time rendered scenes faster than ever before,” said Unreal Engine, Epic Games VP and General Manager Marc Petit.

Update (24 March 2021)

Global AR / VR / XR market to grow four-fold and hit $124.4B value by 2023

The global AR, VR, and mixed reality (MR) market is expected to continue growing and hit a $124.4bn value by 2023, a 305% increase in two years. Although VR technology use is rising in several markets, VR gaming and VR videos make up the largest use cases, with $20.8bn expected to be spent in 2023 on these areas alone.

In 2021, the global AR, VR, and MR market is expected to reach $30.7bn value, revealed the BCG survey. By the end of the next year, this figure is set to jump to $58.7bn. However, the following years are expected to witness even more impressive growth in the use of AR, VR, and MR technology. In 2023, the unified market is forecast to grow by another $65.7bn. By 2025, the market value is expected to surge to almost $300bn.

The IDC Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide revealed consumers lead in AR/VR technology spending. In 2020, consumers spent $6.3bn on AR/VR devices and solutions, more than all other segments combined. The distribution and services segment ranked second with $1.9bn in spending. Manufacturing and resources, public sector and infrastructure market followed with $1.6bn, $1.5bn and $380 million, respectively.

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