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AWS Announces Amazon Sumerian

On Monday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the release of Amazon Sumerian—a browser-based platform designed to help developers rapidly produce augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D apps. While the platform caters to novice developers by requiring little coding, Amazon Sumerian also supports advanced, custom code to build highly sophisticated apps for smartphones and tablets, digital signage and web browsers. The multi-platform experiences produced by Amazon Sumerian run on Oculus, HTC Vive, and iOS devices using browsers that support WebGL or WebVR graphics rendering. The preview version of Amazon Sumerian is available for developers with an AWS account today and is free to use—developers only pay for the storage space of the software they create.

While the platform caters to novice developers by requiring little coding, Amazon Sumerian also supports advanced, custom code to build highly sophisticated apps for smartphones and tablets, digital signage and web browsers.

AWS named the ground-breaking platform Sumerian after the Sumerian language of ancient Mesopotamia upon which modern language was built—which hints that Amazon is hoping to mainstream VR and AR app creation with easy-to-use software. A similar tactic was used by Apple two decades ago when they released computers that were infinitely more simple to use, thereby mainstreaming access and usage.

AWS’s Vice President of Technology, Marco Argenti, 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. 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. With Amazon Sumerian, it is not possible for any developer to create a realistic, interactive VR or AR application in a few hours.”

To make creating an interactive VR or AR app in mere hours feasible, Amazon Sumerian provides hundreds of preconfigured building blocks and libraries to developers. These resources allow developers to drag-and-drop elements into their app—minimizing coding and increasing the fluidity of documenting basics (like inanimate objects or the insinuation of human form). Additional features of Sumerian include: an editor for constructing 3D scenes, an asset import to allow developers to upload 3D assets from FBX and OBJ (support for Unity will be added soon), scripting and object libraries via a 3D engine, hosts, and an AWS services integration that allows seamless integration with Amazon Polly and Amazon Lex.

These resources allow developers to drag-and-drop elements into their app—minimizing coding and increasing the fluidity of documenting basics (like inanimate objects or the insinuation of human form).

Outputting ready-to-use WebVR code allows developers to quickly grab assets, craft a scene, button it up, and then release it to anyone with access to a web browser & a headset. Amazon Sumerian is the culmination of Amazon’s foray into AR/VR with Lumberyard, a tool that allowed developers to build and design AAA games for free while integrating with AWS. By simplifying complex concepts and ideals, AWS is modernizing development and emerging with a new standard of computing technology that will establish Amazon Sumerian as the default platform for creating AR, VR and 3D applications.