Real-Time Object Detection in Unity With ONNX and DirectML Pt. 2

Perform object detection in a Unity project with ONNX Runtime and DirectML.

Christian Mills


August 19, 2022

A new version of this tutorial series is available at the link below:


In Part 2 of this tutorial series, we will integrate our DLL file into a Unity project to perform real-time object detection. We will start by creating a new Unity project and importing the necessary assets. Then, we will allow unsafe code in the project to share input data with the DLL. Next, we will create a processing shader and an object detector script to handle object detection in our Unity project. Finally, we will set up the Unity scene and test the object detection model in the Unity editor. By the end of this post, you will have a working real-time object detection system in Unity for Windows.

Important: This post assumes you already have Unity Hub on your system. Check out this section from a previous tutorial if this is not the case (link).

Create New Project

Open the Unity Hub and click New Project.

Select the target editor version from the Editor Version dropdown menu. We’ll use Unity 2022 for this post, but the current LTS release should also work fine.

Select the 2D Core template.

Pick a name for the project and a location for the project folder before clicking Create Project in the lower right-hand corner.

Import Assets

Once the project loads, we’ll store the DLL files from part 2 in a new folder called Plugins. Right-click a space in the Assets section and select Create → Folder from the popup menu.

The DLL targets 64-bit x86 architectures, so we need to place the DLL files in a subfolder named x86_64.

Note: You can place the Plugins folder inside another folder if needed.

Copy all the DLL files into the Assets/Plugins/x86_64 folder. We then need to close and reopen the Unity Editor to load the plugin files.

After restarting the Unity Editor, create a new folder called Colormaps to store the JSON file from the training tutorial.

We’ll place any test images into a new folder called Images.

Next, we’ll create a folder to store the ONNX models. We need to place the .onnx files in a StreamingAssets folder to include them in project builds. Create a new folder named StreamingAssets. We’ll place each model file in a separate folder and put those in a new subfolder called ONNXModels to keep things organized.

Allow Unsafe Code

Rather than copying the input image from Unity to the plugin, we’ll pass a pointer to the pixel data. First, we need to allow unsafe code for the Unity project. Select Edit → Project Settings... from the top menu.

Open the Player → Other Settings dropdown and scroll down to the Allow 'unsafe' Code checkbox. Enable the setting and close the Project Settings window.

Now we can start coding.

Create Processing Shader

The input image gets flipped upside down when we send it to the plugin. We can pre-flip the image in a Compute Shader. We’ll add the Compute Shader in a new folder called Shaders. Right-click a space in the Shaders folder and select Create → Shader → Compute Shader.

Name the Compute Shader ProcessingShader and open it in the code editor.

Default Compute Shader Code

// Each #kernel tells which function to compile; you can have many kernels
#pragma kernel CSMain

// Create a RenderTexture with enableRandomWrite flag and set it
// with cs.SetTexture
RWTexture2D<float4> Result;

void CSMain (uint3 id : SV_DispatchThreadID)
    // TODO: insert actual code here!

    Result[id.xy] = float4(id.x & id.y, (id.x & 15)/15.0, (id.y & 15)/15.0, 0.0);

We need to add a new Texture2D variable to store the pixel data for the input image. We’ll remove the default method and create a new one called FlipXAxis. Replace the default method name in the #pragma kernel line at the top.

We need the input image height for the flip operation, which we can access with the Texture2D::GetDimensions function.

// Each #kernel tells which function to compile; you can have many kernels
#pragma kernel FlipXAxis

// The pixel data for the input image
Texture2D<float4> InputImage;
// The pixel data for the processed image
RWTexture2D<float4> Result;

// Flip the image around the x-axis
[numthreads(8, 8, 1)]
void FlipXAxis(uint3 id : SV_DispatchThreadID)
    // Stores the InputImage width
    uint width;
    // Stores the InputImage height
    uint height;
    // Get the dimensions of the InputImage
    InputImage.GetDimensions(width, height);

    // Update the y value for the pixel coordinates
    int2 coords = int2(id.x, height - id.y);
    Result[id.xy] = float4(InputImage[coords].x, InputImage[coords].y, InputImage[coords].z, 1.0f);

Create Object Detector Script

We’ll store the C# script that interacts with the plugin in a new Scripts folder. Right-click a space inside it and select Create → C# Script.

Name the script ObjectDetector and open it in the code editor.

Default script code

using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using UnityEngine;

public class ObjectDetector : MonoBehaviour
    // Start is called before the first frame update
    void Start()

    // Update is called once per frame
    void Update()

Add required namespaces

  • System: Contains fundamental classes and base classes that define commonly-used value and reference data types, events and event handlers, interfaces, attributes, and processing exceptions.
  • UnityEngine.UI: Provides access to UI elements.
  • UnityEngine.Rendering: Provides access to the elements of the rendering pipeline.
  • System.Runtime.InteropServices: Provides a wide variety of members that support COM interop and platform invoke services.
  • System.IO: Allows reading and writing to files and data streams.

using System.Collections.Generic;
using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.Rendering;
using System;
using UnityEngine.UI;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
using System.IO;

Add code to copy DirectML.dll file to editor folder

We must copy the DirectML.dll file from the Plugins folder to the parent folder for the Unity Editor application to use DirectML in the Editor. We’ll also need to copy that file to the build folder when building the Unity project. We can handle both steps automatically in code.

We can obtain the path to the current Unity Editor from the EditorApplication.applicationpath variable.

Unity provides an InitializeOnLoad attribute to run code in the Unity Editor without requiring action from the user. This attribute requires the UnityEditor namespace. We can only use this while in the Editor, so we need to wrap the code in Conditional compilation preprocessor directives. We’ll place this code right below the namespaces.

using UnityEditor;

public class Startup
    static Startup()
        // Get all files named "DirectML.dll" in the Assets directory
        string[] files = Directory.GetFiles("./Assets/", "DirectML.dll", SearchOption.AllDirectories);
        // Iterate through each found file
        foreach (string file in files)
            // Check if the file is in the "x86_64" folder
            if (file.Contains("x86_64"))
                // Get the file path for the Editor application
                string editorPath = EditorApplication.applicationPath;
                // Extract the parent folder for the Editor application
                string editorDir = Directory.GetParent(editorPath).ToString();
                // Define target file path
                string targetPath = $"{editorDir}/DirectML.dll";
                // Only copy the file to the Editor application folder if it is not already present
                if (!File.Exists(targetPath)) File.Copy(file, targetPath);

We use the UNITY_EDITOR scripting symbol to check whether we are in the Unity Editor. We are in the Editor, so it returns true, and the code executes.

If we check if we are not in the Unity Editor, it returns false, and the code block does not execute.

We can verify the code works by saving the script and going to the parent folder for Editor application. The DirectML.dll file should be present.

Note: I install Unity editors to a location that does not require Administrator access. You might need to manually copy the file if this is not the case for you.

Define public variables

We’ll add the required public variables above the Start method. We will be able to access these variables in the Inspector tab. We can add Header attributes to organize the public variables in the Inspector tab and use Tooltip attributes to provide information about variables.

Define scene object variables

First, we need a variable to access the screen object that displays either a test image or webcam input. We may or may not want to mirror the screen based on whether a webcam is facing the user.

[Header("Scene Objects")]
[Tooltip("The Screen object for the scene")]
public Transform screen;
[Tooltip("Mirror the in-game screen.")]
public bool mirrorScreen = true;

Define data processing variables

Next, we’ll define the variables for processing model input. We can set the default target input resolution to 224 and use it to scale the source resolution while maintaining the original aspect ratio.

We’ll also add a public ComputeShader variable to access the ProcessingShader we made earlier.

We need to download the pixel data for the input image from the GPU to the CPU before passing it to the plugin. This step can cause a significant performance bottleneck, so we’ll add the option to read the model output asynchronously at the cost of a few frames of latency. This latency might cause the bounding box to trail slightly behind a fast-moving object on the screen. The effect should be minimal, provided the frame rate is high enough.

[Header("Data Processing")]
[Tooltip("The target minimum model input dimensions")]
public int targetDim = 224;
[Tooltip("The compute shader for GPU processing")]
public ComputeShader processingShader;
[Tooltip("Asynchronously download input image from the GPU to the CPU.")]
public bool useAsyncGPUReadback = true;

Define output processing variables

We pass in the JSON file containing the class labels as a TextAsset.

[Header("Output Processing")]
[Tooltip("A json file containing the colormaps for object classes")]
public TextAsset colormapFile;
[Tooltip("Minimum confidence score for keeping detected objects")]
public float minConfidence = 0.5f;

Define variables for debugging

Next, we’ll add a Boolean variable to toggle printing debug messages to the console.

[Tooltip("Print debugging messages to the console")]
public bool printDebugMessages = true;

Define webcam variables

We need to specify a desired resolution and framerate when using a webcam as input.

[Tooltip("Use a webcam as input")]
public bool useWebcam = false;
[Tooltip("The requested webcam dimensions")]
public Vector2Int webcamDims = new Vector2Int(1280, 720);
[Tooltip("The requested webcam framerate")]
[Range(0, 60)]
public int webcamFPS = 60;

Define variables for user interface

We’ll make a simple GUI that displays the predicted class, the current framerate, and controls for selecting webcam devices, models, and execution providers.

[Tooltip("Display predicted class")]
public bool displayBoundingBoxes = true;
[Tooltip("Display number of detected objects")]
public bool displayProposalCount = true;
[Tooltip("Display fps")]
public bool displayFPS = true;
[Tooltip("The on-screen text color")]
public Color textColor =;
[Tooltip("The scale value for the on-screen font size")]
[Range(0, 99)]
public int fontScale = 50;
[Tooltip("The number of seconds to wait between refreshing the fps value")]
[Range(0.01f, 1.0f)]
public float fpsRefreshRate = 0.1f;
[Tooltip("The toggle for using a webcam as the input source")]
public Toggle useWebcamToggle;
[Tooltip("The dropdown menu that lists available webcam devices")]
public Dropdown webcamDropdown;
[Tooltip("The dropdown menu that lists available ONNX models")]
public Dropdown modelDropdown;
[Tooltip("The dropdown menu that lists available ONNX execution providers")]
public Dropdown executionProviderDropdown;

Define public variables for the ONNX plugin

[Tooltip("The name of the ONNX models folder")]
public string onnxModelsDir = "ONNXModels";

Define private variables

We’ll add the required private variables right below the public variables.

Define private webcam variables

We’ll keep a list of available webcam devices so users can switch between them. Unity renders webcam input to a WebcamTexture.

// List of available webcam devices
private WebCamDevice[] webcamDevices;
// Live video input from a webcam
private WebCamTexture webcamTexture;
// The name of the current webcam  device
private string currentWebcam;

Define input variables

We’ll update the dimensions and content of the screen object based on the test image or webcam.

When using asynchronous GPU readback, we need one Texture that stores data on the GPU and one that stores data on the CPU.

// The test image dimensions
private Vector2Int imageDims;
// The test image texture
private Texture imageTexture;
// The current screen object dimensions
private Vector2Int screenDims;
// The model GPU input texture
private RenderTexture inputTextureGPU;
// The model CPU input texture
private Texture2D inputTextureCPU;

Define variable for tracking the current number of detected objects

// Stores the number of detected objects
private int numObjects;

Define variables for storing colormaps

We need to create a couple of classes to parse the JSON content.

// A class for parsing in colormaps from a JSON file
class ColorMap { public string label; public float[] color; }
// A class for reading in a list of colormaps from a JSON file
class ColorMapList { public List<ColorMap> items; }
// Stores a list of colormaps from a JSON file
private ColorMapList colormapList;
// A list of colors that map to class labels
private Color[] colors;
// A list of single pixel textures that map to class labels
private Texture2D[] colorTextures;

Define variables for tracking the framerate

We’ll define some variables to track the frame rate.

// The current frame rate value
private int fps = 0;
// Controls when the frame rate value updates
private float fpsTimer = 0f;

Define private variables for the plugin

// File paths for the available ONNX models
private List<string> modelPaths = new List<string>();
// Names of the available ONNX models
private List<string> modelNames = new List<string>();
// Names of the available ONNX execution providers
private List<string> onnxExecutionProviders = new List<string>();

Define a struct for reading object information from the plugin

We need to create an Object struct for Unity to match the one we defined for the ONNX Runtime code, along with an array of Object structs that we’ll update with the PopulateObjectsArray() function.

// Indicate that the members of the struct are laid out sequentially
/// <summary>
/// Stores the information for a single object
/// </summary> 
public struct Object
    // The X coordinate for the top left bounding box corner
    public float x0;
    // The Y coordinate for the top left bounding box cornder
    public float y0;
    // The width of the bounding box
    public float width;
    // The height of the bounding box
    public float height;
    // The object class index for the detected object
    public int label;
    // The model confidence score for the object
    public float prob;

    public Object(float x0, float y0, float width, float height, int label, float prob)
        this.x0 = x0;
        this.y0 = y0;
        this.width = width;
        this.height = height;
        this.label = label;
        this.prob = prob;

// Stores information for the current list of detected objects
private Object[] objectInfoArray;

Import functions from the plugin

We pass the pointer to the input pixel data as an IntPtr.

// Name of the DLL file
const string dll = "ONNX_YOLOX_DLL";

private static extern int InitOrtAPI();

private static extern int GetProviderCount();

private static extern IntPtr GetProviderName(int index);

private static extern void SetConfidenceThreshold(float minConfidence);

private static extern void RefreshMemory();

private static extern int LoadModel(string model, string execution_provider, int[] inputDims);

private static extern int PerformInference(IntPtr inputData);

private static extern void PopulateObjectsArray(IntPtr objects);

private static extern void FreeResources();

Define Initialization Methods

We first need to define some methods to initialize webcams, the screen object, any GUI dropdown menus, and the in-game camera.

Define method to initialize a webcam device

/// <summary>
/// Initialize the selected webcam device
/// </summary>
/// <param name="deviceName">The name of the selected webcam device</param>
private void InitializeWebcam(string deviceName)
    // Stop any webcams already playing
    if (webcamTexture && webcamTexture.isPlaying) webcamTexture.Stop();

    // Create a new WebCamTexture
    webcamTexture = new WebCamTexture(deviceName, webcamDims.x, webcamDims.y, webcamFPS);

    // Start the webcam
    // Check if webcam is playing
    useWebcam = webcamTexture.isPlaying;
    // Update toggle value

    Debug.Log(useWebcam ? "Webcam is playing" : "Webcam not playing, option disabled");

Define method to initialize the in-scene screen object

/// <summary>
/// Resize and position an in-scene screen object
/// </summary>
private void InitializeScreen()
    // Set the texture for the screen object
    screen.gameObject.GetComponent<MeshRenderer>().material.mainTexture = useWebcam ? webcamTexture : imageTexture;
    // Set the screen dimensions
    screenDims = useWebcam ? new Vector2Int(webcamTexture.width, webcamTexture.height) : imageDims;

    // Flip the screen around the Y-Axis when using webcam
    float yRotation = useWebcam && mirrorScreen ? 180f : 0f;
    // Invert the scale value for the Z-Axis when using webcam
    float zScale = useWebcam && mirrorScreen ? -1f : 1f;

    // Set screen rotation
    screen.rotation = Quaternion.Euler(0, yRotation, 0);
    // Adjust the screen dimensions
    screen.localScale = new Vector3(screenDims.x, screenDims.y, zScale);

    // Adjust the screen position
    screen.position = new Vector3(screenDims.x / 2, screenDims.y / 2, 1);

Define method to get the available ONNX models

/// <summary>
/// Get the file paths for available ONNX models
/// </summary>
private void GetONNXModels()
    // Get the paths for each model folder
    foreach (string dir in System.IO.Directory.GetDirectories($"{Application.streamingAssetsPath}/{onnxModelsDir}"))
        // Extract the model folder name
        string modelName = dir.Split('\\')[1];
        // Add name to list of model names

        // Get the paths for the ONNX file for each model
        foreach (string file in System.IO.Directory.GetFiles(dir))
            if (file.EndsWith(".onnx"))

Define method to get the names of available execution providers

/// <summary>
/// Get the names of the available ONNX execution providers
/// </summary>
private void GetONNXExecutionProviders()
    // Get the number of available ONNX execution providers
    int providerCount = GetProviderCount();
    Debug.Log($"Provider Count: {providerCount}");

    for (int i = 0; i < providerCount; i++)
        string providerName = Marshal.PtrToStringAnsi(GetProviderName(i));
        providerName = providerName.Replace("ExecutionProvider", "");

Define method to initialize GUI dropdown menu options

/// <summary>
/// Initialize the GUI dropdown list
/// </summary>
private void InitializeDropdown()
    // Create list of webcam device names
    List<string> webcamNames = new List<string>();
    foreach (WebCamDevice device in webcamDevices) webcamNames.Add(;

    // Remove default dropdown options
    // Add webcam device names to dropdown menu
    // Set the value for the dropdown to the current webcam device

    // Remove default dropdown options
    // Add ONNX model names to menu
    // Select the first option in the dropdown

    // Remove default dropdown options
    // Add ONNX provider names to menu
    // Select the first option in the dropdown

Define method to initialize the in-scene camera object

/// <summary>
/// Resize and position the main camera based on an in-scene screen object
/// </summary>
/// <param name="screenDims">The dimensions of an in-scene screen object</param>
private void InitializeCamera(Vector2Int screenDims, string cameraName = "Main Camera")
    // Get a reference to the Main Camera GameObject
    GameObject camera = GameObject.Find(cameraName);
    // Adjust the camera position to account for updates to the screenDims
    camera.transform.position = new Vector3(screenDims.x / 2, screenDims.y / 2, -10f);
    // Render objects with no perspective (i.e. 2D)
    camera.GetComponent<Camera>().orthographic = true;
    // Adjust the camera size to account for updates to the screenDims
    camera.GetComponent<Camera>().orthographicSize = screenDims.y / 2;

Define method to update the selected ONNX model

/// <summary>
/// Update the selected ONNX model
/// </summary>
public void UpdateONNXModel()
    // Reset objectInfoArray
    objectInfoArray = new Object[0];

    int[] inputDims = new int[] {

    Debug.Log($"Source input dims: {inputDims[0]} x {inputDims[1]}");

    // Load the specified ONNX model
    int return_msg = LoadModel(


    string[] return_messages = {
        "Using DirectML",
        "Using CPU",

    Debug.Log($"Updated input dims: {inputDims[0]} x {inputDims[1]}");
    Debug.Log($"Return message: {return_messages[return_msg]}");

Define Awake Method

We’ll implement the code to copy the DirectML.dll file from the Plugins/x86_64 folder to the root of the build folder in the Awake() method. The code should be inactive since we are in the Editor.

// Awake runs when the script instance is being loaded
private void Awake()
        // Define the path for the DirectML.dll file in the StreamingAssets folder
        string sourcePath = $"{Application.dataPath}/Plugins/x86_64/DirectML.dll";

    string dataPath = Application.dataPath;
    string buildDir = Directory.GetParent(dataPath).ToString();

    // Define the destination path for the DirectML.dll file
    string targetPath = $"{buildDir}/DirectML.dll";
    // Only copy the file if it is not already present at the destination
    if (!File.Exists(targetPath)) File.Copy(sourcePath, targetPath);

Define Start Method

The Start method is called once before the first frame update, so we’ll perform any required setup steps here.

// Start runs before the first frame update
void Start()
    // Get the source image texture
    imageTexture = screen.gameObject.GetComponent<MeshRenderer>().material.mainTexture;
    // Get the source image dimensions as a Vector2Int
    imageDims = new Vector2Int(imageTexture.width, imageTexture.height);

    // Initialize list of available webcam devices
    webcamDevices = WebCamTexture.devices;
    foreach (WebCamDevice device in webcamDevices) Debug.Log(;
    currentWebcam = webcamDevices[0].name;
    useWebcam = webcamDevices.Length > 0 ? useWebcam : false;
    // Initialize webcam
    if (useWebcam) InitializeWebcam(currentWebcam);

    // Resize and position the screen object using the source image dimensions
    // Resize and position the main camera using the source image dimensions

    // Initialize list of color maps from JSON file
    colormapList = JsonUtility.FromJson<ColorMapList>(colormapFile.text);
    // Initialize the list of colors
    colors = new Color[colormapList.items.Count];
    // Initialize the list of color textures
    colorTextures = new Texture2D[colormapList.items.Count];

    // Populate the color and color texture arrays
    for (int i = 0; i < colors.Length; i++)
        // Create a new color object
        colors[i] = new Color(
        // Create a single-pixel texture
        colorTextures[i] = new Texture2D(1, 1);
        colorTextures[i].SetPixel(0, 0, colors[i]);


    // Get the file paths for available ONNX models
    // Initialize the ONNX Runtime API
    // Get the names of available ONNX execution providers

    // Initialize the webcam dropdown list

Define Processing Methods

Next, we need to define methods to process images using the Compute Shader, calculate the input resolution, handle asynchronous GPU readback, and scale the bounding box information.

Define method to process images using a compute shader

/// <summary>
/// Process the provided image using the specified function on the GPU
/// </summary>
/// <param name="image">The target image RenderTexture</param>
/// <param name="computeShader">The target ComputerShader</param>
/// <param name="functionName">The target ComputeShader function</param>
/// <returns></returns>
private void ProcessImageGPU(RenderTexture image, ComputeShader computeShader, string functionName)
    // Specify the number of threads on the GPU
    int numthreads = 8;
    // Get the index for the specified function in the ComputeShader
    int kernelHandle = computeShader.FindKernel(functionName);
    // Define a temporary HDR RenderTexture
    RenderTexture result = new RenderTexture(image.width, image.height, 24, RenderTextureFormat.ARGBHalf);
    // Enable random write access
    result.enableRandomWrite = true;
    // Create the HDR RenderTexture

    // Set the value for the Result variable in the ComputeShader
    computeShader.SetTexture(kernelHandle, "Result", result);
    // Set the value for the InputImage variable in the ComputeShader
    computeShader.SetTexture(kernelHandle, "InputImage", image);

    // Execute the ComputeShader
    computeShader.Dispatch(kernelHandle, result.width / numthreads, result.height / numthreads, 1);

    // Copy the result into the source RenderTexture
    Graphics.Blit(result, image);

    // Release RenderTexture

Define method to calculate input resolution

/// <summary>
/// Scale the source image resolution to the target input dimensions
/// while maintaing the source aspect ratio.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="imageDims"></param>
/// <param name="targetDims"></param>
/// <returns></returns>
private Vector2Int CalculateInputDims(Vector2Int imageDims, int targetDim)
    Vector2Int inputDims = new Vector2Int();

    // Calculate the input dimensions using the target minimum dimension
    if (imageDims.x >= imageDims.y)
        inputDims[0] = (int)(imageDims.x / ((float)imageDims.y / (float)targetDim));
        inputDims[1] = targetDim;
        inputDims[0] = targetDim;
        inputDims[1] = (int)(imageDims.y / ((float)imageDims.x / (float)targetDim));

    return inputDims;

Define method to handle asynchronous GPU readback

/// <summary>
/// Called once AsyncGPUReadback has been completed
/// </summary>
/// <param name="request"></param>
private void OnCompleteReadback(AsyncGPUReadbackRequest request)
    if (request.hasError)
        Debug.Log("GPU readback error detected.");

    // Make sure the Texture2D is not null
    if (inputTextureCPU)
        // Fill Texture2D with raw data from the AsyncGPUReadbackRequest
        // Apply changes to Textur2D

Define method to send the input texture data to the plugin

/// <summary>
/// Pin memory for the input data and pass a reference to the plugin for inference
/// </summary>
/// <param name="texture">The input texture</param>
/// <returns></returns>
public unsafe int UploadTexture(Texture2D texture)
    //Pin Memory
    fixed (byte* p = texture.GetRawTextureData())
        // Perform inference and get the number of detected objects
        numObjects = PerformInference((IntPtr)p);

    // Initialize the array
    objectInfoArray = new Object[numObjects];

    // Pin memory
    fixed (Object* o = objectInfoArray)
        // Get the detected objects

    return numObjects;

Define method to scale bounding boxes to the display resolution

/// <summary>
/// Scale the latest bounding boxes to the display resolution
/// </summary>
public void ScaleBoundingBoxes()
    // Process new detected objects
    for (int i = 0; i < objectInfoArray.Length; i++)
        // The smallest dimension of the screen
        float minScreenDim = Mathf.Min(screen.transform.localScale.x, screen.transform.localScale.y);
        // The smallest input dimension
        int minInputDim = Mathf.Min(inputTextureCPU.width, inputTextureCPU.height);
        // Calculate the scale value between the in-game screen and input dimensions
        float minImgScale = minScreenDim / minInputDim;
        // Calculate the scale value between the in-game screen and display
        float displayScale = Screen.height / screen.transform.localScale.y;

        // Scale bounding box to in-game screen resolution and flip the bbox coordinates vertically
        float x0 = objectInfoArray[i].x0 * minImgScale;
        float y0 = (inputTextureCPU.height - objectInfoArray[i].y0) * minImgScale;
        float width = objectInfoArray[i].width * minImgScale;
        float height = objectInfoArray[i].height * minImgScale;

        // Mirror bounding box across screen
        if (mirrorScreen && useWebcam) x0 = screen.transform.localScale.x - x0 - width;

        // Scale bounding boxes to display resolution
        objectInfoArray[i].x0 = x0 * displayScale;
        objectInfoArray[i].y0 = y0 * displayScale;
        objectInfoArray[i].width = width * displayScale;
        objectInfoArray[i].height = height * displayScale;

        // Offset the bounding box coordinates based on the difference between the in-game screen and display
        objectInfoArray[i].x0 += (Screen.width - screen.transform.localScale.x * displayScale) / 2;

Define Update method

We’ll place anything we want to run every frame in the Update method.

// Update runs once per frame
void Update()
    useWebcam = webcamDevices.Length > 0 ? useWebcam : false;
    if (useWebcam)
        // Initialize webcam if it is not already playing
        if (!webcamTexture || !webcamTexture.isPlaying) InitializeWebcam(currentWebcam);

        // Skip the rest of the method if the webcam is not initialized
        if (webcamTexture.width <= 16) return;

        // Make sure screen dimensions match webcam resolution when using webcam
        if (screenDims.x != webcamTexture.width)
            // Resize and position the screen object using the source image dimensions
            // Resize and position the main camera using the source image dimensions
    else if (webcamTexture && webcamTexture.isPlaying)
        // Stop the current webcam

        // Resize and position the screen object using the source image dimensions
        // Resize and position the main camera using the source image dimensions

    // Scale the source image resolution
    Vector2Int inputDims = CalculateInputDims(screenDims, targetDim);
    if (printDebugMessages) Debug.Log($"Input Dims: {inputDims.x} x {inputDims.y}");

    // Initialize the input texture with the calculated input dimensions
    inputTextureGPU = RenderTexture.GetTemporary(inputDims.x, inputDims.y, 24, RenderTextureFormat.ARGBHalf);

    if (!inputTextureCPU || inputTextureCPU.width != inputTextureGPU.width)
        inputTextureCPU = new Texture2D(inputDims.x, inputDims.y, TextureFormat.RGBA32, false);
        // Update the selected ONNX model

    // Copy the source texture into model input texture
    Graphics.Blit((useWebcam ? webcamTexture : imageTexture), inputTextureGPU);

    // Flip image before sending to DLL
    ProcessImageGPU(inputTextureGPU, processingShader, "FlipXAxis");

    // Download pixel data from GPU to CPU
    if (useAsyncGPUReadback)
        AsyncGPUReadback.Request(inputTextureGPU, 0, TextureFormat.RGBA32, OnCompleteReadback);
    { = inputTextureGPU;
        inputTextureCPU.ReadPixels(new Rect(0, 0, inputTextureGPU.width, inputTextureGPU.height), 0, 0);

    // Send reference to inputData to DLL
    numObjects = UploadTexture(inputTextureCPU);
    if (printDebugMessages) Debug.Log($"Detected {numObjects} objects");
    // Scale bounding boxes

    // Release the input texture

Define GUI Methods

We need some methods to handle user interactions with the GUI and display the bounding boxes and current framerate.

Define method that to handle switching ONNX models and execution providers

/// <summary>
/// This method runs when the value for an ONNX dropdown changes
/// </summary>
public void ONNXDropdownUpdate()
    // Only call plugin methods after initializing the input texture
    if (inputTextureCPU)

Define method to update webcam usage from GUI

/// <summary>
/// This method is called when the value for the webcam toggle changes
/// </summary>
/// <param name="useWebcam"></param>
public void UpdateWebcamToggle(bool useWebcam)
    this.useWebcam = useWebcam;

Define method to update webcam device from GUI

/// <summary>
/// The method is called when the selected value for the webcam dropdown changes
/// </summary>
public void UpdateWebcamDevice()
    currentWebcam = webcamDevices[webcamDropdown.value].name;
    Debug.Log($"Selected Webcam: {currentWebcam}");
    // Initialize webcam if it is not already playing
    if (useWebcam) InitializeWebcam(currentWebcam);

    // Resize and position the screen object using the source image dimensions
    // Resize and position the main camera using the source image dimensions

Define method to update the minimum confidence value

/// <summary>
/// Update the minimum confidence score for keeping bounding box proposals
/// </summary>
/// <param name="slider"></param>
public void UpdateConfidenceThreshold(Slider slider)
    minConfidence = slider.value;

Define OnGUI method

We’ll display the predicted bounding boxes and current frame rate in the OnGUI method.

// OnGUI handles and renders GUI events.
public void OnGUI()
    // Initialize a rectangle for label text
    Rect labelRect = new Rect();
    // Initialize a rectangle for bounding boxes
    Rect boxRect = new Rect();

    GUIStyle labelStyle = new GUIStyle
        fontSize = (int)(Screen.width * 11e-3)
    labelStyle.alignment = TextAnchor.MiddleLeft;

    foreach (Object objectInfo in objectInfoArray)
        if (!displayBoundingBoxes) break;

        // Skip object if label index is out of bounds
        if (objectInfo.label > colors.Length - 1) continue;

        // Get color for current class index
        Color color = colors[objectInfo.label];
        // Get label for current class index
        string name = colormapList.items[objectInfo.label].label;

        // Set bounding box coordinates
        boxRect.x = objectInfo.x0;
        boxRect.y = Screen.height - objectInfo.y0;
        // Set bounding box dimensions
        boxRect.width = objectInfo.width;
        boxRect.height = objectInfo.height;

        // Scale bounding box line width based on display resolution
        int lineWidth = (int)(Screen.width * 1.75e-3);
        // Render bounding box
            position: boxRect,
            image: Texture2D.whiteTexture,
            scaleMode: ScaleMode.StretchToFill,
            alphaBlend: true,
            imageAspect: 0,
            color: color,
            borderWidth: lineWidth,
            borderRadius: 0);

        // Include class label and confidence score in label text
        string labelText = $" {name}: {(objectInfo.prob * 100).ToString("0.##")}%";

        // Initialize label GUI content
        GUIContent labelContent = new GUIContent(labelText);

        // Calculate the text size.
        Vector2 textSize = labelStyle.CalcSize(labelContent);

        // Set label text coordinates
        labelRect.x = objectInfo.x0;
        labelRect.y = Screen.height - objectInfo.y0 - textSize.y + lineWidth;

        // Set label text dimensions
        labelRect.width = Mathf.Max(textSize.x, objectInfo.width);
        labelRect.height = textSize.y;
        // Set label text and backgound color
        labelStyle.normal.textColor = color.grayscale > 0.5 ? : Color.white;
        labelStyle.normal.background = colorTextures[objectInfo.label];
        // Render label
        GUI.Label(labelRect, labelContent, labelStyle);

        Rect objectDot = new Rect();
        objectDot.height = lineWidth * 5;
        objectDot.width = lineWidth * 5;
        float radius = objectDot.width / 2;
        objectDot.x = (boxRect.x + boxRect.width / 2) - radius;
        objectDot.y = (boxRect.y + boxRect.height / 2) - radius;

            position: objectDot,
            image: Texture2D.whiteTexture,
            scaleMode: ScaleMode.StretchToFill,
            alphaBlend: true,
            imageAspect: 0,
            color: color,
            borderWidth: radius,
            borderRadius: radius);


    // Define styling information for GUI elements
    GUIStyle style = new GUIStyle
        fontSize = (int)(Screen.width * (1f / (100f - fontScale)))
    style.normal.textColor = textColor;

    // Define screen spaces for GUI elements
    Rect slot1 = new Rect(10, 10, 500, 500);
    Rect slot2 = new Rect(10, style.fontSize * 1.5f, 500, 500);

    string content = $"Objects Detected: {numObjects}";
    if (displayProposalCount) GUI.Label(slot1, new GUIContent(content), style);

    // Update framerate value
    if (Time.unscaledTime > fpsTimer)
        fps = (int)(1f / Time.unscaledDeltaTime);
        fpsTimer = Time.unscaledTime + fpsRefreshRate;

    // Adjust screen position when not showing predicted class
    Rect fpsRect = displayProposalCount ? slot2 : slot1;
    if (displayFPS) GUI.Label(fpsRect, new GUIContent($"FPS: {fps}"), style);

Define method to exit the application using the GUI

/// <summary>
/// This method runs when the user clicks the GUI Quit button
/// </summary>
public void Quit()

Define OnApplicationQuit Method

We’ll perform any clean-up steps in the OnApplicationQuitmethod.

private void OnApplicationQuit()

Set up Unity Scene

Now we can start setting up our Unity scene. We need a screen to display the webcam feed, an empty object to attach the object detector script, dropdown menus for selecting webcams, models, and execution providers, a toggle to activate a webcam feed, and a slider to update the confidence threshold.

Create Screen object

Right-click a space in the Hierarchy tab and select 3D Object → Quad. We can name the new object Screen.

Next, drag and drop a test image from the Assets → Images folder onto the Screen object in the Scene view. Note that the Screen looks a bit dim. We need to change the shader for the Screen’s Material so that it does not require an external light source.

Select the Screen in the Hierarchy tab and open the Shader dropdown menu in the Inspector tab. Type Unlit/Texture into the search box and press enter.

Create Inference Manager object

Right-click a space in the Hierarchy tab and select Create Empty. Name the empty object InferenceManager.

With the InferenceManager object selected, drag the ObjectDetector script into the Inspector tab.

Now we can assign the screen object, compute shader, and colormap file in the Inspector tab by dragging them into their respective fields.

Add GUI prefab

We still need to create the GUI controls. To save time, I made a Prefab that we can drop into the Scene.

Drag and drop the Canvas prefab into a new folder called Prefabs.

From there, drag the prefab into the Hierarchy tab. We can see the GUI by switching to the Game view.

Configure Webcam Toggle On Value Changed function

Next, we need to pair the WebcamToggle with the UpdateWebcamToggle function in the ObjectDetector script. Expand the Canvas object and select the WebcamToggle.

Click and drag the InferenceManager into the On Value Changed field.

Open the No Function dropdown menu and select ObjectDetector → UpdateWebcamToggle.

Configure Webcam Dropdown On Value Changed function

We can follow the same steps to pair the WebcamDropdown with the UpdateWebcamDevice function in the ObjectDetector script.

This time select ObjectDetector → UpdateWebcamDevice.

Configure ONNXModelDropdown On Value Changed Event

Configure ONNXExecutionProviderDropdown On Value Changed Event

Configure ConfidenceThresholdSlider On Value Changed Event

Configure QuitButton On Click Event

Assign GUI objects to Inference Manager

We can now assign the GUI objects to their respective fields for the ObjectDetector script.

Add Event System

Before we can use the GUI, we need to add an Event System. Right-click a space in the Hierarchy tab and select UI → Event System.

Test in Editor

Click the play button in the top-middle of the Editor window to test the project.

There should be a bounding box for the call sign and one for the idle hand.

CPU Execution Provider

DirectML Execution Provider


In this two-part tutorial series, you learned how to implement real-time object detection in Unity using ONNX Runtime and DirectML. In Part 1, we created a dynamic link library (DLL) file in Visual Studio to perform object detection with ONNX Runtime and DirectML. In this post, we integrated this DLL file into a Unity project and performed real-time object detection. You should now have the skills and knowledge to leverage ONNX Runtime and DirectML in your Unity projects.

Previous: Object Detection for Unity With ONNX Runtime and DirectML Pt. 1

Project Resources: GitHub Repository