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Artificial IntelligenceVirtual Reality
By Amara Graham October 31, 2018
Fall conference season is in full swing and we were at Unite LA, Unity Technologies’ multi-summit conference event, in sunny Los Angeles from October 23-25, 2018. While Unity started as a gaming engine, developers are building 2D, 3D, and XR experiences on Unity to leverage the powerful cross-platform engine it is today. Unite LA brings all areas of the Unity community together under one roof with sessions, workshops, and an expo hall. Truly a little something for everyone!
Unity is an evolving platform keeping up with all things new in tech, including artificial intelligence, and I don’t just mean NPC (nonplayable characters, also referred to as AI or AIs). With Unity’s introduction of Machine Learning Agents not too long ago, some Unity developers were left wondering “how can I use AI too?” The barrier to entry felt too high.
Enter the IBM Watson SDK for Unity. Available on the Unity Asset Store, the SDK brings the power of AI to Unity projects without the burden on Unity developers to generate or acquire large amounts of data or machine learning and deep learning skills. Working with AI is now as simple as calling a REST API, but the IBM Watson SDK for Unity goes a step further and includes a wrapper. With so much interest in creating immersive experiences in AR/VR limiting traditional input like keyboards, there has been an increase in interest in speech to text, text to speech, and chatbot or conversational type interfaces like Watson Assistant.
We expected this, but what we didn’t expect was all of the other interesting use cases and ideas that came up too! We’ve seen developers incorporate our Watson SDK to issue voice commands to facilitate a hands-free gaming experience, to develop a conversational agent that enhances player onboarding, and all the way to conversational entities that help gamers create their own adventure by conversing and interacting with a virtual entity – and these don’t include the industry use cases we’ve seen in auto, film, and training!
“I am always amazed at the variety of use cases for Unity. Every time I go to Unite, I see new ways of creating, new industries, and new energy around this technology.” – Scott D’Angelo, Developer Advocate
The IBM booth was developer-focused and featured experts like Taj Santiago, maintainer of the IBM Watson SDK for Unity, and Scott D’Angelo, Developer Advocate and maintainer for the Speech Sandbox, demoed in the booth but also available on the Unity Asset Store. At the booth, Unity attendees had fun creating objects in a VR environment using their voice. Some even wanted to enhance our demo! Did you know we accept pull requests for our SDK and patterns?
Amara Graham, Developer Advocate, gave a pop-up theatre talk on the expo hall floor to a standing-room-only crowd about using the IBM Watson SDK for Unity. She showed a small demo of speech to text, text to speech, and Watson Assistant, all working together to voice-power an animated character in AR.
We met so many different developers and designers from large enterprise companies, ed-tech and training, academic research, game studios, and individual independent game developers. Regardless of how big or small their projects were, they all had at least two things in common: they were developing on Unity and they were interested in incorporating Watson’s powerful AI services. One woman even ran up to the booth and exclaimed “You’re demoing it! I love speech to text! I LOVE IBM!” which was a first-time experience for those of us at the booth.
IBM attendees and the booth crew included members of the IBM Digital Business Group, IBM Watson, and IBM Services. It was a great opportunity for those from IBM to collaborate and meet with partners together as a united front.
It’s hard to leave Unite and not be inspired. Show us what you are building today. And stay tuned for things with have in the pipeline like new assets and tutorials!
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