Posts about Augmented and Virtual Reality

Metro Detroit Companies Using Unity3D

December 4, 2017

Michigan’s augmented and virtual reality industry has a ton going on. The industry is changing the way we engage with customers, train manufacturing employers, interact with cars and so much more. We caught up with some of our friends in the industry to talk about what they’ve been working on. As we approach the early application deadline for our Unity3D bootcamp, we want students to get a real understanding of what’s possible with this technology. Check out this amazing work:

Five Michigan Companies Developing in Unity

Chameleon Power

Project by Chameleon Power

Chameleon Power specializes in using visualization software for businesses and consumers in manufacturers and retailers. From web tools to mobile apps, the company offers an array of services to companies such as Angie’s List, Empire Today, The Home Depot and more. 

Project by Chameleon Power

Chameleon Power uses Unity to develop an array of projects, including a commercial VR application that allows users to configure an environment with different combinations of materials. Users can select glass types, flooring, wall colors, railings, staircases and other products, customizing various features, materials and colors. 


Deep Canvas

Virtual Reality by Deep Canvas

Located in Clawson, MI, Deep Canvas is a “boutique experience design firm for any reality.” Whether clients want a web presence or something created completed in VR, the team can help. Deep Canvas has worked with brands like Chevy, TechTown and Business Leaders for Michigan.

Using Unity, the Deep Canvas made Tiny TechTown.  Tiny TechTown allows you to explore the seven TechTown districts and the small businesses they help grow across the city of Detroit. With “free play mode,” you can create an original world and fill it with buildings, roads, vehicles and more, then give it life with poseable characters, tell a story with custom speech bubbles and then take in-game photo captures that can be shared with friends on Facebook. 

Fast Effect 

Nowadays, unique customer engagement can have a huge impact on your company’s bottom line. Located in Royal Oak, Fast Effect creates interactive experiences through motion graphics, AR, VR, storytelling 3D animation and more. 

This company, based in Royal Oak, rolled out the Dodge Ram Simulator, a mobile AR application they developed in Unity for Chrysler.  It allows the user to point a phone or tablet at a Dodge Ram van (or even a photo or model) and see in 3 dimensions how different upfit packages would look, or how other versions of the vehicle compare in size.


Vectorform, also located in Royal Oak, has worked with big name clients such as Google, adidas and Microsoft. The company strives to push businesses into solutions designed for the future, becoming a “digital partner” for their customers. 

With client DTE Energy, Vectorform developed VR safety training.  Their Working at Heights experience helps workers learn safety procedures while experiencing heights, without exposing them to danger.

Learners take the training in a full-immersion, room based Virtual Reality experience; this allows them to move around as they would in real life. DTE workers learn to make repairs at heights, follow safety procedures, and remove fall hazards to protect themselves and others around them.


SpellBound AR

SpellBound provides therapeutic tools for children in hospitals, giving them moments of joy and wonder during their treatment. When the SpellBound app is pointed at their cards or books, a magical world of 3D characters, animals, and scenes emerges, so children can use tablets or phones the hospital and their family already owns to experience a new dimension of interaction–developed with guidance from specialists so that these interactions provide effective distraction therapy and motor skill rehabilitation.

Thank you to Deep Canvas, Vectorform, Fast Effect, Chameleon Power and SpellBound for taking the time to tell us about your projects! We’re excited to see what you develop next!

Want to learn more about why we developed a bootcamp teaching Unity? Read my blog Learning Augmented and Virtual Reality: Unity3D Bootcamp

Learning Augmented and Virtual Reality: Unity3D Bootcamp

November 30, 2017

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about augmented and virtual reality. We’ve had a lot of fun being a part of the conversation and hearing what others are working on within the growing industry. This January, we’re launching our Unity AR/VR bootcamp, and we’ve been getting this question quite a bit:

Why did Grand Circus decide to launch a Unity VR/AR bootcamp?  

Unity3D is a massively popular, incredibly powerful game engine.  Check out some Fast Facts from Unity:

  • More than 5 billion downloads
  • 2.4 billion unique mobile devices running one or more games made with Unity
  • Widely used by millions of developers, including developers from small indie game companies all the way up to Disney, Electronic Arts, LEGO, Microsoft, NASA, Ubisoft and Warner Bros
Virtual Reality by Deep Canvas

Created by Deep Canvas, this Tiny TechTown allows you to explore and create in a virtual reality city.

The Unity engine and development environment are incredibly flexible.  Unity development happens with a balance of three-dimensional manipulation (dragging and dropping elements, positioning them in space and using a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to set them up) and writing software in C# to make objects act and interact.  And even though it’s called Unity3D, it also allows developers to build 2-dimensional games and other content like simulations, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality. (See my other blog for the difference between Virtual and Augmented Reality.)

Unity is cross-platform; it can be used to create content for Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop systems, iOS and Android, and even XBox and PlayStation.  For VR platforms it supports HTC Vive and Oculus Rift along with mobile platforms like Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream, and it supports mobile AR platforms such as Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. In fact, Unity supports development for over 25 platforms.

Unity also offers an Asset Store.  This helps developers in three main ways:

  • It provides lots of free assets, many high quality, so that developers can start out with low or no budget;
  • It makes professional-quality assets like 3D models and game frameworks available so not everything in a project has to be built from scratch;
  • It adds functionality to the base program with plugins, toolkits and other add-ons.

The Asset Store is an incredible strength to the Unity platform and makes it the go-to choice for a lot of dev shops.

Unity3D allows for incredibly rapid development.  I was told by the head of one dev shop, “My team can do six Unity projects in the time it takes to get a single Unreal [another game engine] project mostly running.”  The availability of pre-made objects within Unity3D, coupled with the power and ease of coding in C#, makes for quick prototyping and even final development.

DTE Energy now offers a safer training option for its workers. This virtual reality app was created by Vectorform.

As mentioned, although Unity3D is a game engine it can be used to develop much more.

Virtual Reality entertainment investment jumped 79% in the second half of 2017 but Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are already established in enterprise uses.  In healthcare alone, VR and AR are valued at nearly $800 million and growing rapidly as use cases for both employees and patients grow.  In training in general, VR is expected to be a more than $6 billion industry by 2022.  VR is also being adopted in construction, in education, and in retail, .  Augmented Reality is showing up in many of the same places, including automotive, manufacturing and retail.  

There is a ton happening in this industry, and it’s all developing so quickly. These evolving technologies need skilled professionals ready to create new projects. This January, we’ll be training Augmented and Virtual Reality’s newest developers. 

Want to hear more about the projects being developed in Unity3D? Check out my blog: Metro Detroit Companies Using Unity3D