How Unity Reflect is powering RETIMA

Learn how SimRTR developer Eduardo Pérez used Unity Reflect to create RETIMA, a real-time manager for building information modeling (BIM) that enables you to create high-quality instant renders, fully configurable graphic settings including volumetric light and symbolic representation, automatically generate people with variable occupancy density, and more.

Switzerland-based SimRTR builds cloud platforms for advanced BIM integration in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and facility assets management systems (FM). When tasked with making a solution that could edit, review, coordinate, and present projects with render quality in real-time, SimRTR turned to Unity Reflect.

SimRTR’s made with Unity application, RETIMA, is a real-time BIM manager for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, with a free version for Unity Reflect projects available now. We talked with the RETIMA developer, Eduardo Pérez, about his experience with Unity and how Unity Reflect is unleashing the possibilities of real-time 3D for AEC.

I am an architect with a long career developing custom solutions for AEC and BIM. Since 2015, I have been working with game engines to pioneer real-time projects for AEC in Switzerland. These first projects were presentations to show different design options in protected historic building renovation projects. It played a big role in helping the city authority’s decision making. 

Despite this, we found that the workflow was less than optimal. It wasn’t efficient to have to develop and distribute a large Windows application every time a design changed. On top of that, the design teams couldn’t use the presentations to directly iterate the design. In 2018, I started my own company, SimRTR, with the goal of taking a different approach by using real-time for AEC. There are three main concepts behind RETIMA development:

An easy to use application that can load different models instead of a heavy, custom application that is developed around a specific model. Rich functionality to edit and review the models in the same real-time environment with a focus on creating different design options. An online platform that allows several users to edit and review the same project anywhere at the same time.

Before starting development in 2018, I had never used Unity before. It was a bold decision not to use a game engine I had prior experience with. But I was confident that Unity was the best option. I made more than 100 plugins with the Autodesk Revit API using .NET and C#, so I felt at home developing with Unity. 

Immediately I was surprised by how fast and efficiently I could implement complex functionality despite barely using Unity before. It only took one month to create a working prototype with editable elements, which are internally defined as parametric BIM objects, and bidirectional connection with Revit. And not long after that, a prototype of the application loading models in run-time as a client of a custom-developed online platform.

The first prototype in 2018 (left). It was called VRE. Everything was a bit rough compared with recent releases (right), but the core of RETIMA was there already.

Originally, RETIMA was based on a project division of a fixed base and editable model generated from libraries of parametric BIM objects. Both the fixed model and the libraries were downloaded in run-time when selecting the specific project. The preparation of both parts is

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