IBM Watson Unity SDK brings AI to enterprise AR and VR apps

The IBM/Unity partnership allows developers to integrate Watson cloud services such as visual recognition, speech to text, and more into their Unity applications.

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Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • The IBM Watson Unity SDK is the first of its kind to bring scalable artificial intelligence services to Unity, allowing developers to integrate Watson services into their Unity applications.
  • Unity is rapidly emerging as the market leader for enterprise augmented reality and virtual reality, and the IBM Watson Unity SDK could help drive the market with applications that bring contextual expertise and AI capabilities directly into the employee.

On Tuesday, IBM and Unity launched the IBM Watson Unity SDK on the Unity Asset Store, allowing developers to more easily integrate Watson cloud services and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques such as visual recognition, speech to text, and language classification into their Unity applications.

The SDK is the first asset of its kind to bring scalable AI services to Unity, according to a blog post from Unity product marketing manager Nathan Ventura. It also marks another step on the journey to bring augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications to the enterprise.

AR and VR hold promise for business use cases, including employee training programs that teach workers how to perform a dangerous job in a virtual environment, or field work in which employees can hold up their phone or smart glasses to an object to determine if it needs to be fixed.

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"As AR and VR technologies mature, there is increasing interest coming from the enterprise market for innovative applications in marketing, design, engineering, manufacturing and analysis," Ventura wrote. "Unity is the market leader in AR and VR for consumer use cases, as well as rapidly emerging as the market leader for enterprise AR and VR."

IBM has been exploring enterprise AR and VR applications with clients such as the Immersive Insights demo, which brings AR visualizations to data science tools. In this new partnership, IBM and Unity plan to help drive the development of the AR/VR business market with applications that bring contextual expertise and AI capabilities directly to the employee.

The SDK will allow Unity developers to configure games and projects to understand speech, talk with users, and understand the intent of a user in natural language, Ventura wrote. Speech recognition is one of the key features of the SDK, as Watson's capabilities will let developers build highly accurate speech recognition into their project, which can be used to trigger in-game events. Watson's Vision API will allow developers to integrate real-time visual recognition into their Unity projects as well.

Unity developers can download the SDK for free here.

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Image: iStockphoto/yacobchuk

By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.