Amazon launches new VR/AR platform for developers

Amazon Sumerian is a new service that makes it easy for developers to build Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and 3D applications, to run them on mobile devices, head-mounted displays, or web browsers.
AWS re:Invent
AWS re:Invent


With VR and AR devices getting more and more popular, the demand for content is set to explode. Many tech companies are planning to release platforms tailor made for VR/AR developers to easily develop apps and content for the devices currently hitting the market. 

Amazon Web Services, an company, has announced Amazon Sumerian, a new service that makes it easy for any developer to build Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and 3D applications, and run them on mobile devices, head-mounted displays, digital signage, or web browsers. The announcement was made at AWS's re:Invent kick-off event.

With Amazon Sumerian’s editor, developers can build realistic virtual environments, populate them with 3D objects and animated characters, and script how they interact with each other and the application’s users. VR and AR apps created in Amazon Sumerian will run in any browser that supports the WebGL or WebVR graphics rendering format said Amazon, including Daydream, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and iOS mobile devices. The service will be cloud based so there is no upfront costs—customers pay only for the storage used for 3D assets and the volume of traffic generated to access the virtual scenes they create.

Customers in many industries are adopting VR and AR technologies to build realistic virtual environments, or overlay virtual objects on the real world, for a range of applications, including training simulations, virtual concierge services, enhanced online shopping experiences, virtual house or land tours, and much more. Until now, creating realistic virtual environments, or “scenes,” required specialized skills and the use of multiple different tools such as the Unreal or Unity 3D gaming engines, for things such as 3D modeling, environmental design, animation, lighting effects, audio editing, and more.

Amazon Sumerian solves these challenges by providing a web-based editor that developers can use to easily and quickly create professional-quality scenes, and a visual scripting tool to build the logic that controls how the objects and characters in the scenes behave and respond to actions. Amazon Sumerian also makes it easy to build scenes where rich, natural interactions between objects, characters, and users occur through the use of AWS services such as Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, AWS Lambda, AWS IoT, and Amazon DynamoDB.

“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. But, customers are daunted and overwhelmed by the up-front investment in specialized skills and tools required to even get started building a VR or AR application,” said Marco Argenti, Vice President, Technology, AWS. “With Amazon Sumerian, it is now possible for any developer to create a realistic, interactive VR or AR application in a few hours.”

With Amazon Sumerian, developers can design immersive VR, AR, and 3D environments, easily create animated characters powered by AWS AI services and deploy applications to popular VR and AR hardware.

Amazon also showed off some examples of Amazon Sumerian at work during the event:

Mapbox is a location platform for developers with a deeply customizable toolset to embed maps in any application. "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, VP of Business Development, Mapbox. "For instance, we integrated Mapbox’s points of interest and global terrain maps with Amazon Sumerian so data is delivered and rendered in real-time."

Thermo Fisher Scientific is dedicated to improving the human condition through systems, consumables, and services for researchers. "My experience with Amazon Sumerian makes developing WebVR and Web3D much easier,” said Jonathan Agoot, Technology Strategist, Global eBusiness Innovation Center of Excellence, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “I can easily import my 3D models, textures, and animation so I focus on developing a scene and not have to worry about code."

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