Unlocking the potential of Immersive VR using Unity
Posted By : Abhinav Dixit | 14-Dec-2020
Unlocking the potential of Immersive VR using Unity
Virtual reality(VR) is slowly gaining traction and becoming a household name these days. The technology associated with Oculus Rift & Playstation VR enables people to experience Video Games in an immersive and enhanced way, certainly different than the traditional rectangular screens.
Pokémon Go players have experienced Pokémon’s in their real-world environment which, in technical terms is defined as Augmented Reality(AR).
Mixed reality(MR) enables the co-existence of the user's real-world environment and digitally-created content and promotes seamless interactivity between them.
These terms VR/AR/MR are mere sub-classes of a broader term called Extended Reality which is also known as XR.
Why Unity for VR/AR Development?
As the leading development IDE for AR and VR with full cross-platform support, Unity enjoys a large share of the market. About 60% of the immersive XR content development is done using Unity
Recently, Unity unveiled a new multi-platform XR framework that enables direct integrations through a unified plugin framework. The resulting tech stack consists of an API that exposes common functionalities that could be harnessed across Unity’s supported platforms in a frictionless way for creators. Unity’s XR architecture offers the following benefits:
- Multi-platform AR tools such as AR Foundation
- Faster partner updates from supported plugins
- More platforms have an interface to take advantage of Unity’s XR rendering optimizations.
VR in HDRP is designed so that:
- All HDRP features & optimizations are compatible with VR.
- HDRP is fully supported by the new Unity XR Plugin Framework.
- Single-pass (instancing) is the default and recommended rendering solution for VR for better & optimized rendering
Combining all of this with Unity’s High Definition Render Pipeline allows creators to create immersive, photorealistic VR environments.
What are immersive virtual environments?
The dictionary definition of immersion is “The state of being deeply engaged or involved.” but when it comes to virtual ecosystem design, immersion is a sensation of being present within a virtual world.
A high level of VR immersion is accomplished by involving your two most prominent senses, vision, and hearing, by using a VR headset and headphones.
The VR headset wraps the immersive virtual experience nearly to the edge of your natural vision field of view. When you look around, the environment you experience is the same as you do when you look around in real life. Headphones help in amplifying the experience by blocking the noise around you while allowing you to hear the sounds within the VR experience. When you move the head, the sounds within the VR environment influence you like they would in real life.
3D Game engines like Unity have made it possible to create and distribute highly polished VR content. Such solutions make creating immersive virtual reality experiences a much more accessible pursuit, meaning the display mode is becoming more common. That means there is an opportunity to master VR content creation to engage a growing audience.
The compelling power of immersion
Environments are a foundation of Virtual and Augmented Reality applications, and each virtual environment gives the user context about the experience they are having. Naturally, people feel different when they are sitting inside in an office space than they do playing outside on a breezy, sunny day. Expertly created virtual environments that influence a user’s state of mind in the same way.
How Unity helps in designing immersive environments?
Truly immersive environments make a user feel like they have been teleported to a different location.Unity3D is an XR development platform that simplifies the process of building realistic immersive virtual environments. Using HDRP for a VR project, you can take advantage of all the render pipeline’s features to create experiences bound only by your imagination. With its state-of-the-art rendering techniques, HDRP can deliver stunning, photorealistic visuals at a quality rarely seen before in virtual reality environments.
Single Pass Instanced Rendering which is a much faster solution for rendering. In Single-pass mode, every draw call is rendered simultaneously for both eyes. This is achieved by using a texture array for the instanced draw calls and render targets. Furthermore, culling and shadows are processed only once per frame. A native VR implementation has to process everything twice to render – once for each eye. This solution is called multipass rendering.HDRP supports multipass rendering, however, since this method will make your application use twice as much CPU for rendering, Unity does not recommend this method.
HDRP VR support has been designed so that all features are compatible with VR and are highly optimized for single-pass rendering. With Unity’s Physically Based Shading, it has become easy for developers to create physically correct materials in less time. Substance Designer, another tool can take physically-based shading to the next level. It helps developers build textures for the objects that go into the physically-based shading pipeline.
If you are planning to create an immersive environment, and are looking for a tool, that with so many advantages, Unity is absolutely the best choice in the development of XR projects.
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