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Video Game Software Developer Unity is Partnering with HERE Technologies to Build 3D Maps for Vehicle Navigation Systems

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【Summary】Mapping company HERE Technologies announced that it's partnering with San Francisco-based video game software developer Unity to add 3D graphics used for video game development to vehicle infotainment screens, including for maps and navigation. The 3D navigation represents the next-generation of in-vehicle human machine interfaces (HMI’s) for the auto industry.

Eric Walz    Mar 25, 2021 10:00 AM PT
Video Game Software Developer Unity is Partnering with HERE Technologies to Build 3D Maps for Vehicle Navigation Systems

Mapping company HERE Technologies announced that it's partnering with San Francisco-based video game software developer Unity to add 3D graphics used for video game development to vehicle infotainment screens, including for maps and navigation. 

HERE is a leading provider of map content and location-based services to the global automotive industry. The company is owned by a consortium of German automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, as well as Tier-1 auto industry suppliers Bosch and Continental.

As part of the partnership, Unity and HERE Technologies will develop next-generation embedded automotive HMIs with state-of-the-art, real-time 3D (RT3D) graphics capabilities. The collaboration will also work on next-generation location technology for autonomous driving, simulations and city planning, the companies said.

The 3D navigation represents the next-generation of in-vehicle human machine interfaces (HMI's). The collaboration will combine automotive-grade map data with an advanced real-time 3D engine to offer a more dynamic automotive user-experience.

Using 3D maps for navigation can help drivers to better orient themselves, offering a detailed view of their surroundings and an easier way to visualize turn-by-turn driving directions while offering a more immersive experience for accessing in-vehicle infotainment options.

"Car buyers now care more about interactivity with their vehicle than horsepower or fuel-efficiency. Unity's work with HERE opens up the ability to meet consumer demand, providing a continuous user experience across all displays powered by Unity and our ecosystem," said Julien Faure, Vice President, Verticals at Unity. "By working with industry leaders like HERE, we feel that Unity has the potential to power dynamic infotainment, immersive augmentation, and geospatial and media experiences all integrated into a seamless user experience."

To showcase the capabilities of Unity's real-time 3D platform and HERE's mapping technology, the partners developed a proof-of-concept (PoC) application of an embedded in-vehicle-infotainment (IVI) system that demonstrates how the system might look to a driver navigating in the city of San Francisco. 

The embedded system was built on Unity's platform and features HERE's 3D city data. The PoC showcases a futuristic, wide-screen navigation experience with a 3D map of San Francisco and demonstrates what developers can achieve with the addition of human machine interface (HMI) workflow design improvements. 

HERE's 3D city data is highly detailed. In January the company announced that it created highly detailed 3D models of 80 major cities in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The models are called "HERE Premier 3D Cities" and are used to visualize cities in 3D. HERE said it will continue to add new cities to the list. The 3D city models can also integrate with HERE's standard navigation maps giving them an extra layer of detail. 

As part of HERE's new partnership with Unity, the two companies are working to offer access to these 3D city models via a vehicle's navigation system, giving drivers a better visualization of their surroundings.

"The goal of our collaboration with Unity is to meet our customers' desire for an in-car navigation experience that's an engaging representation of reality," said Jorgen Behrens, Chief Product Officer, HERE Technologies. "Unity's robust 3D rendering engine makes HERE 3D city data, route guidance and navigation look impressive, providing a rich and immersive in-dash experience to the driver."

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HERE Technologies built a 3D map of San Francisco and many other major city centers.

The HERE and Unity PoC application successfully runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon central processing unit (CPU), which is designed for mobile devices. But In 2020, Unity announced collaborations with multiple hardware developers across the HMI ecosystem, including Continental AG subsidiary Elektrobit and NXP Semiconductors. 

HERE Technologies is one of the world's biggest mapping companies. To date, the company has mapped 196 countries around the world. Each day, HERE said it collects more than 28 terabytes of celestial lidar data to keep its global maps up to date.

In addition to its 3D rendering for the video game industry, Unity operates a leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D applications. The platform is used by architects, automotive designers, filmmakers. Now it's being used for the development dynamic automotive interfaces.

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