Amazon launches web-based tool for developing VR and AR experiences

Above A screenshot shows Amazon Sumerian

On Monday, Amazon launched a browser-based tool called Sumerian that enables developers to put 3D models together in scenes for use in VR and AR applications.

Amazon said Sumerian is available in preview starting today, accessible via its AWS Management Console. Any browser supporting WebGL, Web VR or ARKit graphics renderings will run apps created with Sumerian. It includes a web-based editor for constructing 3D scenes, a library of pre-built objects and templates, a selection of customizable 3D characters that can serve as narrators for your scene, an asset import tool that lets you upload your own 3D components, and more. In any case, users of the toolkit can create animated characters that interact with the player or customer verbally.

Amazon Sumerian's editor lets developers drag and drop 3D characters and objects (like furniture or buildings) into "scenes" (e.g. rooms, office environments, and landscapes).

This news comes as one of the first announcements out of AWS re:Invent, the cloud provider's major conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Sumerian service includes an object library with 3D models along with assistance for importing assets from FBX and OBJ files.

It's created to eliminate the need for specialized tools for tasks like 3D modeling, environmental design, animation, lighting effects, and audio editing, as well as the additional step of adapting AR and VR applications for different hardware platforms. Note that you will need an AWS Account Number to apply.

Once users have built an experience in Sumerian, it can run on hardware such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and iPhone. Developers can also use the platform to create their own objects and scenes.

"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". 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. That's thanks to Amazon's existing speech recognition and natural language-processing tech-Lex and Polly, respectively.

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.

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