Amazon introduces new solution for building AR, VR and 3D applications

Amazon has launched a suite of tools that makes it quick and affordable for any business to create slick-looking 3D virtual reality and augmented reality apps.

Once users have built an experience in Sumerian, it can run on hardware such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and iPhone.

Hosts: animated, lifelike 3D characters that can be customized for gender, voice, and language.

Through Amazon Sumerian, developers will be able to build virtual environments for mobile devices, head-mounted displays, digital signage, and web browsers. Now in preview, Sumerian allows creation of VR and AR scenes that target platforms like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Daydream, and it works with several other Amazon products.

However, Unity Labs EVP Sylvio Drouin told Ars previous year that the Unity Labs team has focused heavily on making its own way for creatives to build VR worlds without advanced technical knowledge. That engine is widely used among AR and VR developers, and providing a bridge between Unity and Sumerian could help attract developers.

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Sumerian doesn't require any extensive 3D graphics expertise, and can be used by a broader group of professionals to create valuable experiences. 3D objects (e.g. furniture, buildings, and natural objects) and characters can be place into into "scenes" (e.g. rooms, office environments, and landscapes).

"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, vice president of technology at AWS.

The service comes with a library of prebuilt objects developers can use to populate their AR and VR apps, plus a number of scene templates to get the ball rolling. As more developers look to support AR and VR, and platform owners continue to expand what devices can do, Sumerian could help make AWS a key home for developing the applications of the future.

Amazon's press release states specifically that "specialized skills and the use of multiple different tools for disciplines such as 3D modeling, environmental design animation, lighting effects, audio editing and more" will not be required to use Sumerian.

Access to Sumerian is via the AWS Management Console - there is no software to install or upfront costs as Sumerian uses Amazon's normal "pay for what you use" billing.

  • Delia Davidson