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How To Build a VR App in Unity

Virtual Reality has continued to revolutionize the way people and enterprises interact with each other as well as their surrounding environment. And although this innovative technology has always been traditionally associated with the gaming industry, it has continued to make inroads in various fields such as medical training, military, education, fashion, app development, and so much more.

Closer home in the app development space, Unity has been the driving force behind the success of VR apps. And with a reason…

For starters, it supports various components of a VR app including virtual objects interactions, tracking,  teleporting, positional audio, and so much more. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most businesses are looking to hire a Unity partner to help them leverage the power of VR apps. 

In this article, we are going to look at what VR apps are, their relationship with Unity, and how you can build a VR app using Unity.

Definition of VR Apps

To start with, apps are pieces of software that are specifically designed to attain a specific set of needs. This makes a virtual reality app an app that harnesses the power of VR to reach its goals.

With that said, there is much more than meets the eye, when it comes to Virtual Reality apps. Not only do they come in different variations, but are also built for different target platforms.

And that’s where Unity comes in…

This game engine and IDE not only helps a Unity developer bring games to multiple platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows, and consoles, but also to build a wide range of tools, utilities, and business apps, making it one of the most versatile platforms on the market. 

In 2017, the release of the ARKit tool from Apple ushered in the era of VR-enabled apps, which allowed Unity developers to design and develop innovative AR experiences for the iOS devices. A year later, Google’s ARCore made a debut into the market, which opened up the Android market to all the aspiring AR app developers.

Thanks to ARKit and ARCore, Unity holds a 60% market share of the VR and AR content, and a 2018 report by Deloitte has shown that a majority of companies with annual revenues of between $100 million and $1 billion are already experimenting with VR.

In terms of growth, a report published by Statista shows that the total global market valuation of the VR industry was $6.2 billion in 2019, with the number expected to jump to $16 billion by 2022.

Advantages of Building VR Apps Using Unity

There are multiple compelling reasons as to why you should use Unity to build a VR app. They include;

Rapid Development:

One of the biggest advantages of using Unity is because it makes app development quicker and easier. For example, the IDE allows the developers to use C#, which is relatively simple compared to Java or Kotlin. Not only that, if you are building an Android app, Unity VR development also eliminates the hassle of dealing with the resource folder, as the platform hides the underlying file structure of the app. 

Less Coding:

Along with rapid development, Unity also uses a relatively easy-to-use user interface with drag and drop capabilities, allowing developers to build UIs without XML. Still, adding images to the buttons, customizing the fonts, testing, and deploying apps are fairly simple.

Lastly, less coding for the product owner means saving in the form of unity developer salary paid, as the developers take significantly less time to build the product.

Cross-platform Compatibility:

In its very basic nature, Unity is a cross-platform platform. This means that development teams can easily create Android, iOS, and Windows compatible apps with minimal alterations needed, making it easier to reach wider audiences.

Powerful Features:

Although most of Unity’s features gravitate more towards game development, the IDE also features useful graphical features that can be useful to augment the performance of VR apps. For instance, if you are looking to incorporate 3D elements in your VR app, Unity is an excellent choice.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Build a VR App in Unity

Now that you have seen why Unity is a valuable IDE to build your VR apps, let’s take a quick look at how you can actually build the app.

But before we do that, here is a quick rundown on how to set up your VR project in Unity;

The very first step in Unity VR development is to download the SDK. And depending on what you want to build, you can choose to either download Oculus SDK or Google VR SDK.

Next, create simple 3 D objects by following the following easy steps. Click on Create, then 3D Object, choose the Plane & Cube option, and you will be prompted to create a build.

Click on File > Build Settings > Platform ->PC > Switch Platform.

Finish by clicking on PlayerSetting>Inspector > Check the “XR support” > Add the device you are using.

Steps

Step 1: Create a new Scene.

Step 2: Insert .OBJ or .FBX in your scene.

Step 3: Add materials.

Step 4 apply colliders to the static objects and all the other aspects that won’t have interaction in the scene.

Step 5: Create a Prefabs folder by selecting Asset > Create Prefab. Drag the objects from the scene and drop them onto the “empty” prefabs folder 

Step 6: Add the wall & visual barriers and place the interactive objects.

Step 7: Add text by clicking GameObject>3D Object> 3D Text.

Step 8: Create a 360 video or background using an inside-out sphere, ensuring it is large enough to mimic the real-world environment. Attach a 360 image

Step 9: Design the audio for a more immersive VR experience by adding “Audio Listener” to either the Game Object or Camera. Alternatively, you can click “SteamVR Plugin > Camera Rig”

Step 10: The final step is to run the app on an Android phone. Dispensing on the platform you have chosen, you first need to save the scene, revert to File, click Build, and Run. Alternatively, you can click on Build only and Unity will generate a shareable APK file for you.

NOTE: When building the app, you may receive a prompt asking you to select the root Android SDK folder. For this, you can simply download the Android SDK, select the folder location, and you are good to go.

Final Thoughts

VR technology continues to present brands with countless opportunities in terms of creating engaging content and immersive experiences. Using this approach, they are not only able to win over customers but also set themselves apart in their respective industries. As outlined above, building a VR app is a fairly straightforward process that even a person with basic programming skills can do. And if happens not to be the case, there are multiple unity developers for hire who can help you build a VR app as you continue to focus on your core business functions.

How To Build a VR App in Unity was last updated September 29th, 2020 by Anastasia Stefanuk
How To Build a VR App in Unity was last modified: September 29th, 2020 by Anastasia Stefanuk