Amazon Debuts Sumerian To Help Developers Make VR, AR, 3D Apps

Sumerian lets developers build applications without requiring any specialised programming or 3D graphics expertise, and can be accessed from a web browser. Any browser supporting WebGL, Web VR or ARKit graphics renderings will run apps created with Sumerian.

Amazon Sumerian can be used by developers to drag and drop 3D objects into scenes, such as offices or landscapes, to create VR, AR, and 3D environments.

Amazon launched the project at midnight on Sunday at the launch of the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, which continues through this week.

One group of developers does get a leg up, however, as anyone familiar with the AWS video game developing platform Lumberyard will be able to notice similarities in feature sets, according to an Amazon FAQ page reported on by the Register. The Sumerian tools let customers create 3D characters, called "Hosts" (which, by the way, also is what the AI robots in HBO's "Westworld" are called), to narrate and guide users through immersive scenes.

In the enterprise, AR and VR are poised to make a big impact. Supported devices include Google's Daydream, HTC Vive, Facebook's Oculus Rift, and iOS mobile devices.

The public cloud computing giant took the wraps off its new Amazon Sumerian service, which provides a platform for developers to create realistic virtual environments that can be populated with animated characters and other 3D objects.

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"Customers across industries see the potential of VR and AR technologies for a wide range of uses-from educating and training employees to creating new customer experiences", said Marco Argenti, VP of technology at Amazon Web Services. Users can import their own 3D images of objects or "choose from Amazon Sumerian's library of pre-built objects, (or) download and import objects from third-party asset repositories".

Amazon said Sumerian is available in preview starting today, accessible via its AWS Management Console. That's thanks to Amazon's existing speech recognition and natural language-processing tech-Lex and Polly, respectively.

Sumerian could be a step toward further popularising AR and VR applications, which now require specialised tools and skills to develop and deploy across different devices.

The Amazon Sumerian also assists with mapping services from Mapbox.

Amazon says that there is no cost associated with the software and that customers must only pay for the storage used for their 3D assets and the volume of traffic generated by the content they create.