Technology

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

On Monday, Amazon launched the service, Amazon Sumerian, to ease the development of augmented reality and virtual reality apps for different platforms. Amazon Sumerian would help developers synchronize the application in the popular VR and AR hardware, create animated characters and design the interactive AR and VR environments.

Amazon Sumerian
tmeier1964 / Pixabay

Amazon Sumerian to make life easier for developers

Amazon launched the service during the AWS “Midnight Madness” pre-show event in Las Vegas. Amazon Sumerian will be available for preview starting today, and works on all browsers supporting WebGL or WebVR graphics rendering such as Daydream, HTC Vive, iOS mobile devices and Oculus Rift.

Being a browser-based tool for now, Amazon Sumerian would allow developers to use the 3D models in VR and AR applications. The Sumerian service includes an object library with 3D models along with assistance for importing assets from FBX and OBJ files.

In a press release, Marco Argenti, Vice President, Technology, AWS said, “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.”

However, customers are afraid of the up-front investment and specialized tools needed to craft useful VR or AR apps.

“With Amazon Sumerian, it is now possible for any developer to create a realistic, interactive VR or AR application in a few hours,” Argenti said.

No special skills needed

Amazon has tried to keep Sumerian simple so that developers new to building the 3D experience do not face issues while creating the immersive content. The app developer does not need advance coding skills to use Sumerian as the service includes the drag and drop interface along with a visual scripting tool to design the logic that would determine the behavior and response of objects and characters in the scene, notes Road To VR.

The Amazon Sumerian also assists with mapping services from Mapbox.

“We now bring Mapbox location services to Amazon Sumerian, enabling users to integrate 3D maps and surfaces into their AR and VR applications and bring location-based experiences to life,” said Alex Barth, vice president of business development at Mapbox.

Amazon is also offering the integration of Sumerian with the artificial intelligence infrastructures, Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly, for automatic speech recognition, language understanding and text-to-speech capability applications. This integration means the virtual reality characters would be able to respond to queries and interact just like a real person, to some extent.

Rising use of AR and VR

This new Amazon service comes at a good time as developers currently are more interested in building apps that support virtual reality and augmented reality, and the platform owners want to expand the potential of the device. Amazon believes that Sumerian would be a positive catalyst for developers and platform owners in achieving this.

Niantic popularized the AR technology by integrating it into its record-smashing game Pokemon Go in June 2016. The technology has been the underlying theme of multiple applications and gaming since then. Since last year, both AR and VR have evolved more for use in realistic training simulations, virtual home tours and virtual concierge services, among others.