Chico, California, based Theia Interactive, has been awarded an Epic MegaGrant to accelerate the development of collaborative VR (virtual reality) tools in Unreal. The company’s R&D has made impressive innovations for the Unreal platform and its users, both for Theia’s own visualization services and their clients and for users of Theia’s digital tools for Unreal.
Theia’s VR tool BigRoom taps the power of Unreal Engine and makes it easy to create online meeting rooms where VR and desktop users can interact, review designs, and explore edit potential in projects.
The grant funds will help expedite the development of the product via new staff hires at Theia and provide research and development funds. BigRoom is currently in closed beta.
“Theia is working toward bringing real-time rendering and collaboration tools to the virtual design review process for multiple industries,” said Bill Fishkin, founder & CEO of Theia Interactive. “This Epic MegaGrant will help us improve the integration with Unreal Engine and deliver the next generation collaborative VR platform with BigRoom.”
This MegaGrant is actually Theia’s second such grant win by Epic, signaling a strong ongoing relationship between the two companies.
Founded in 2014, Theia Interactive began as a visualization company working with the Unreal Engine platform and began to build custom tools for its own use. In 2018, Theia embarked on commercializing its custom software solution Optim to help speed up the content creation process and improve on the workflow inside Unreal Engine. (see: Architosh, “Optim 1.2 Adds Real-Time, Interactive CV Collaboration to Unreal Engine,” 27 May 2020.)
In 2020, Theia launched its first multi-user collaborative VR template; it allows Unreal users to collaborative meet inside their projects in VR and desktop modes. BigRoom takes that technology further, and an open beta will be announced soon.
To learn about BigRoom go here.
Architosh Analysis and Commentary
Theia’s work with Optim is quite pivotal. Unreal Engine is an advanced piece of software and not easily accessible by the average design professional. In our past discussions with Epic on where Unreal Engine sits within the constellation of professional visualization tools, it has been noted how Twinmotion in the AEC space can serve as an onramp of sorts for users to advance to Unreal Engine. What Theia has done is create in Optim technology that simplifies and streamlines the Unreal Engine environment. Their next steps in BigRoom appear to further democratize the Unreal Engine environment vis-a-vis VR technologies.
As we noted in our recent 2021 Tech Trends feature, VR and AR technologies will see an acceleration in the pandemic and post-pandemic context. As Chris Ruffo, Architecture, Engineering, and Product Development at Lenovo, recently said to us, “the need for real-time collaboration has clearly accelerated the need for real-time design workflows.”