Digital Unity: Autodesk Partners with Game Engine for VR Modeling

Autodesk and Unity have developed a connection between Autodesk’s AEC software and Unity’s game engine.

A spaceship design is transferred from Maya to Unity. (Image courtesy of Unity Technologies.)

A spaceship design is transferred from Maya to Unity. (Image courtesy of Unity Technologies.)

When Andrew Anagnost took the stage at Autodesk University, he mentioned that he had gotten everyone on his staff to read the book Ready Player One to get a taste for the virtual future. While this might seem like a strange request from an architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) software president, it makes sense in the light of Autodesk’s announcement that it has partnered more closely with video game engine Unity.

Unity is one of the world’s most-used game engines, capable of running both immersive games and simulations. In the past few years, outsiders to the video game industry have started to look at game engines as a tool for developing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) workflows. In the past year, Autodesk and Unity have partnered to integrate the engine with graphics and art software like 3ds Max and Maya. Their latest venture brings the connection to AEC-focused software.

The connection lets designers turn Revit and VRED models into immersive AR/VR experiences. It also makes it easier for teams using Unity to organize their workflow with Autodesk Shotgun. All of these connections flow through Autodesk’s FBX exporter and allow for real-time 3D experiences. Autodesk and Unity will be launching the link into production in early 2019. The new integrations are expected to go live in fall 2019.

To help with the ingestion of data-heavy models into a simpler VR context, Unity also partnered with PiXYZ STUDIO on a plug-in meant to deal specifically with CAD data. PiXYZ was developed to deal with largescale CAD assemblies and can import and simplify complex data.

This is Autodesk’s first major foray into translating AEC models into VR. According to Unity execs, being able to experience manufacturing and architectural models in real life will make it easier to optimize the design before it becomes physical.

“Customers will be able to see everything in context, in real-time, so you can identify mistakes, drive consensus and visualize the project before the first yard of concrete is poured,” said John Riccitiello, Unity Technologies chief executive officer.

According to Autodesk execs, this is only the start of a shift in the industry.

“The people in their 20s today are going to expect the gamification of everything,” Anagnost said. “Gamers are going to rule the world.”