Video Games and Cars? No really.

Last week the writers' group I belong to, Western Automotive Journalists, met at Unity (, a tech outfit in San Francisco. If you play video games chances are you've used a Unity product. Not that they make games but the platform(s) that many games run on.

I'm not a gamer but I bet some of the simpler games I play on my laptop use a Unity platform. But cars? Yes cars. As it says on their web site, "Gain a competitive edge with real-time 3D in a rapidly evolving industry landscape."

Full disclosure - Unity fed and watered us. But if you think I can be bought for some pizza and a beer you don't know me.

Now I don't claim to have understood much of what Unity showed us. I am not a techie. But their claims that using their platform to design vehicles saves time and money impressed me.

Unity kind of sneaked in the back door with the auto industry according to General Manager Tim McDonough. Over the past few years young engineers and designers have been hired by most auto companies. They were a bit amazed at the old ways of design and testing, you know draw the car or part by hand, crave it out of clay, and eventually present it to the higher ups. These 'kids' were brought up with high tech and computer games. They knew a better way - Design in real-time 3D! One car company claims they saved millions by designing this way.

I was aware that most car companies have fairly interactive web sites for consumers. Unity is there too but you don't know it. I wasn't aware how many people are configuring and then buying their cars online (okay you still have to go to a dealership to actually pay for the car). Unity showed some remarkable tech on how you can almost test drive a car from your living room. They had a demonstration with a model car. Using an iPad they showed how you could see inside the car, configure the interior, change colors, etc. It was just a model yet it looked like the real thing on the iPad!

At one point Unity showed two 'photos' side by side. One was a real photo while the other was computer generated using their platform. Half of our group picked the wrong one as being the real photo. Pretty impressive.

Unity was kind enough to allow share the presentation they gave us. It is large (592M) but here it is Unity WAJ 2.potx .


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