Videogame middleware developer Unity Technologies began rolling out its latest engine Unity 2017 back in July, with the next update following in October, adding fully optimised support for Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Today, the company has unveiled Unity 2017.3 – which developers have been able to beta test for a couple of months now – adding plenty of improvements, including an improved toolset for creating interactive 360-video experiences.
Those creating 360-degree videos saw improvements in Unity earlier this year with the introduction of a new video player. This made it possible to make 360 videos interactive by adding CG objects, ambisonic audio, visual effects, and more. For today’s update, users can now bring a 2D or 3D 360-video into Unity and play it back on the Skybox to create standalone 360-video experiences targeting VR platforms, improving workflows.
Unity 2017.2 may have optimised support for ARCore but the augmented reality (AR) software is still in development. In Unity 2017.3 technical improvements introduced with the new developer preview include a C API for Android NDK, functionality to pause and resume AR sessions allowing users to pause and continue tracking after app is resumed, improved runtime efficiency and finally, improved trackable and anchor interface across anchor, plane finding, and point cloud.
Continuing the AR theme, Unity 2017.3 now includes Vuforia 7 support, so that users can build cross-platform AR apps. “Vuforia 7 introduces Model Targets, a new way to place digital content on specific objects using pre-exiting 3D models, states Unity’s Blog. “Also new is Vuforia Ground Plane, a capability that allows you to place digital content on a horizontal surface such as a floor or table. Ground Plane will support an expanding range of iOS and Android devices, taking advantage of platform enablers such as ARKit where available.”
So that’s extensive AR and 360-degree improvements, but what about virtual reality (VR)? Well, with Oculus rolling out Rift Core 2.0 this month Unity has included Dash depth support so that Oculus Dash can partially occlude world-space overlays. Unity has added the possibility to use Unity’s terrain trees in VR experiences, and lastly Stereo Instancing – which was introduced in Unity 2017.2 for VR PC based platforms – has now expanded to PlayStation VR. Stereo Instancing is an exciting rendering advancement that unlocks hardware optimizations for rendering stereo images.
Check out the Unity blog for all the update details, not just the VR/AR and 360 ones. And as further announcements are made VRFocus will keep you updated.