Amazon's Sumerian Tool Can Be Used To Develop AR And VR Experiences

The Amazon.com Inc. unit announced Sumerian during an unusual "Midnight Madness" event Monday for select attendees on the eve of its annual weeklong re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

The move taps into growing interest in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which involve the use of 3D environments or elements overlaid upon the user's surroundings for applications such as training simulations, virtual concierge services, online shopping or virtual property tours. It lets you create, edit, and publish multi-platform 3D experiences for hardware like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS devices right from your browser.

AI support lets developers create animated 3D characters that can guide users through a scene by narrating scripts or answering questions.

In its description of the "immersive VR, AR and 3D environments", Amazon says the Sumerian editing tool will enable developers to "drag and drop 3D objects (e.g. furniture ...) into "scenes" (e.g. rooms, office environments and landscapes)". Deploying those apps is also a problem, because each platform has its own unique specifications and processes that need to be tackled. That includes mobile devices, web browsers and head-mounted displays such as Facebook Inc.'s Oculus Rift. It also allows anyone to import objects from third-party asset repositories such as Sketchfab or Turbosquid, or create and import their own objects.

The editor allows users to import 3D objects into scenes and includes features such as scripting, animation, and integration with Amazon's cloud services. That's thanks to Amazon's existing speech recognition and natural language-processing tech-Lex and Polly, respectively.


The retail giant debuted software tools on Monday called Amazon (amzn) Sumerian that are meant to help coders more easily build virtual reality and augmented reality apps using 3D computer graphics. If you find what you're looking for, you can view it in 3D and download it to use in your app.

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.

Additionally, if an app needs a map embedded, Amazon Sumerian supports location platform Mapbox.

It requires no software install or upfront costs - with developers only paying for the storage used for 3D assets and the volume of traffic generated to access scenes - and can be accessed via the AWS management console.


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