Amazon tool lets anyone create AR, VR experience

Kyle Walsh | CNBC
Kyle Walsh | CNBC

28 November, 2017

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.

An example of how publishers can use the new video tools unveiled by Amazon Web Services at re:Invent 2017. According to Amazon, the VR and AR apps created in Amazon Sumerian will run in any browser that supports WebGL or WebVR graphics rendering.

It features a user friendly editor, which can be used to drag and drop 3D objects and characters into scenes.

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.

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Previous year online retail giant Amazon launched its first foray into videogame development with its Lumberyard game engine, adding and improving support for virtual reality (VR) content creation in the following months. It includes an object library full of models that people can put to use, as well as support for importing assets from FBX and OBJ files. The visual scripting tools draw on AWS services such as Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly, which provide automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and text-to-speech capabilities so these virtual characters can interact with human users. Tara Walker, an AWS technical evangelist, said in a blog post that Sumerian will also support building AR scenes for Android devices that are compatible with ARCore in the near future. Deploying those apps is also a problem, because each platform has its own unique specifications and processes that need to be tackled. The library is fully integrated with Google's Tilt Brush and Blocks apps, letting you modify numerous objects to better fit your project. Storage pricing for Sumerian 3D assets is 6 cents per gigabyte monthly, and the fees for the total volume of traffic generated by each scene is 38 cents per GB per month.

"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, Technology, AWS, in a statement.

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.

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