Unity MARS solves three big challenges for AR creators

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Unity MARS is available on a free 45-day trial. But with an ongoing subscription cost of $50 per month, what problems does the new tool solve for AR creators?

Quick read

➨ Unity MARS was released on 1 June 
➨ The authoring tool includes starter templates
➨ Sugar Creative, Dr. Seuss Enterprise’s, Aardman and Fictioneers are early users

The story

The new AR authoring studio from Unity Technologies solves “three of the biggest challenges” that creators face, according to director of XR tool products Timoni West.

Unity released MARS—or Mixed and Augmented Reality Studio—on 1 June. Expanding on the problems that MARS is designed to solve, West said: “We’ve identified three of the biggest challenges AR creators face, and we solved them with Unity MARS.”

“Creators can author complex, data-oriented apps visually, test their experiences without leaving the MARS authoring environment, and deliver apps that are contextually aware, flexible, and truly interact with the real world.”

That last point is crucial to attractive AR experiences and one that Unity is keen to highlight. The software developer says that experiences created with MARS are fully responsive to surrounding physical space, work in any location, and with any kind of data, “giving creators the ability to deliver AR experiences that live up to the end user’s expectations: digital content that seems to live in and react to the real world”.

To help creators quickly begin building without starting from scratch, MARS also includes starter templates, which are pre-designed building blocks that cover popular AR use cases. They include a training tutorial application that works with all of Unity’s indoor and outdoor environment templates.

Creators interested in MARS can enjoy a free 45-day trial. An ongoing subscription costs $50 per month.

Unity has highlighted several use cases for MARS, including Sugar Creative and Dr. Seuss Enterprise’s ABC AR, an app that enhances how children learn to read by bringing the Dr. Seuss characters to life.

Lead creative and studio manager Will Humphrey told Unity: “Unity MARS has been the toolkit that has allowed us to realize a new horizon, a shift in the potential of immersive experiences by enabling them to become truly dynamic. Put simply, Unity MARS is adding intelligence to AR.”

Other developers working with early versions of MARS have created a variety of AR applications, such as sales and marketing experiences for an auto showroom, and a training application for factory workers.

Unity showcased MARS at AWE 2020 with a new Wallace & Gromit AR game from creator Aardman and UK-based studio Fictioneers.

Fictioneers used MARS from Unity to “bring contraptions and environments to life” within The Big Fix Up “and give them intelligent, dynamic behaviour”.

Main image: Unity MARS’s proxy-based workflow (left, top), fuzzy authoring (right) and WYSIWYG authoring (right, bottom)