[Herald Interview] Unity goes beyond games to cars, AI, VR

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Unity Technologies Korea anticipates more deals with automobile and telecommunications industry in 2019

Published : Mar 10, 2019 - 17:28
Updated : Mar 15, 2019 - 18:19

Unity, a licensed game engine, is one of the most popularly used pieces of game developing software in the world. It’s the Adobe of games, if you will.

For beginner developers, “Unity Personal” by Unity Technologies is a free-to-use version that anyone can use until their original content generates more than $100,000 yearly profit – at which point the developer is obliged to switch to the upper, paying model.

Such is the “democratization of development” pursued by Unity Technologies ApS, the video game development company founded in Denmark in 2004.




And the Korean branch of the ubiquitous company has also been seeing rosy business performance. As of the first half of 2018, the two-year profits of Unity through mobile developers came up to combined 13.4 trillion won globally.

But more obscure the public is that Unity technology is used not just in games but also in various industries.

Especially this year, Unity Technologies Korea is expecting a breakthrough deal with one of the major domestic carmakers.

“While we are still focusing on our original role as a game developing software, this year, we’re also expecting milestone deals with domestic automobile company and all three telecommunications companies,” said Unity Technologies Korea’s Country Manager Kim In-suk. She declined to share details of the deal or the automaker, adding that there are only a few in Korea.


(Video shot and edited by Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)

Kim In-suk, the country manager for Unity Technologies Korea (Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)



“Unity started out as a game developing engine, but the game is a combination of graphics, sound effects, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and you name it -- the technologies used to develop games can be applied to just about every industry,” said Kim in an interview with The Korea Herald.

Unity engine is already being used by major industries here.

Hyundai and Kia Motors uses the technology for their augmented reality handbook. With Unity, drivers can take a photo of the inside of the car with their smartphone to check the functions of all the buttons and nobs.

Unity also collaborates with virtual reality goggles such as Samsung Gear, and telecommunications network service SK Telecom, for the latter’s Oksusu social VR, which lets users watch videos together in a virtual reality space.

Interior design company Hanssem has a service developed using Unity engine that assists consumer consultation through VR furniture placements.

Korean Air ran a one-off event for passengers to design the exterior of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Globally, Unity Technologies has partnerships with such business giants as Google, Xiaomi, Ikea, and Mercedes Benz.

All the while, Unity maintains a lead in the original domain of game developing.


 

Unity Technologies Korea’s field developer and ‘Evangelist’ Oh Ji-hyun at work (Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)



In the Global Game Jam 2019, out of the near 9,000 games presented event, 65 percent were developed using Unity, up 6 percent from a year earlier.

The augmented reality game “Pokemon Go,” which took the world by storm in 2016, flashed the Unity logo to everyone as it loaded.

Korea’s Nexon recently launched its mobile game “Spirit Wish” using Unity. Netmarble’s K-pop star simulation game “BTS World” is also being developed using Unity engine.

The cross-genre flexibility and compatibility is what sets apart the Unity engine from its biggest competition, Unreal engine, Kim said.

“Unreal is a great engine, but it is owned by Epic Games. It has always been a game developing engine and has never deviated,” said Kim.

Unity Technologies offices across the world are expanding the number of staff including Korea.

The number of staff in Korea is currently around 50, but will soon become 70, according to Kim. In summer, the company will move to a bigger office not far away.

“The Korea office is very important because of the country’s great talents. Korea has fast turnover rate of trial and error; Our people have higher standards for graphics and visual presentation,” Kim said, adding that Korea is Asia’s hub for games. The games that have become hits here go on to become hits elsewhere in the world, such as in Japan and Taiwan.

Unity Technologies was made the Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies category for the second consecutive year in 2019 in the Top 50 Enterprise and AR and VR categories.

Unity Technologies will present the keynote speech at Game Developers conference 2019 in March, where it will run a record size booth.

The company is set to host a series of “Unite” events for users of Unity software across the world in May, starting with Shanghai and ending with India. The event in Seoul is scheduled at Coex Convention Center on May 21 and 22. 

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation