When it comes to virtual and augmented reality, Amazon is probably the last name to appear on the list of companies trying to innovate those platforms. Perhaps it's not even on the list at all. Well, Amazon would like to prove everybody wrong.
It has unveiled an interactive developer service called Sumerian, which claims to simplify the process of creating VR and AR apps. With Sumerian, creating 3D scenes and making characters move with the help of artificial intelligence are as easy as dragging and dropping objects.
Essentially, it's an app creator for those not that well-versed in VR and AR development.
What Is Amazon Sumerian?
Sumerian, which is currently in preview, allows creators to produce content that specifically targets mainstream VR platforms the likes of HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Daydream, and it works with several of Amazon's products as well. It's built on Amazon's proprietary Web Services platform, or AWS, and aims to help developers build experiences such as "training simulations, virtual concierge services, enhanced online shopping experiences, [and] virtual house or land tours."
Developers can use Sumerian to create VR and AR games too. They can breathe life into animated characters by virtue of Lex, Amazon's speech recognition system, and Polly, its natural language-processing technology.
Amazon Sumerian: What It Offers
As detailed in a blog post, Sumerian features the following:
• Editor: An editor, entirely web-based, that aids developers in constructing 3D scenes, importing assets, and scripting interactions and special effects. Also comes integrated with cross-platform publishing.
• Object Library: Preloaded objects and templates to help developers get started.
• Asset Import: Allows developers to upload 3D assets to use in their scenes. Formats such as FBX and OBJ are supported, and there's planned support for Unity projects as well.
• Hosts: Features animated 3D characters whose gender, voice, and language are highly customizable.
• AWS Services Integration: Features integration with Amazon Polly and Amazon Lex to enable speech and natural language to into Sumerian hosts. What's more, the scripting library can be used with AWS Lambda, allowing use of the full range of AWS services.
Amazon says Sumerian doesn't require developers to have 3D graphics or programming experience to build their apps. Suffice it to say that it's a streamlined, no-frills creator program fit for the VR and AR noob. What's more, it's ultimately an ingenious way to deliver a straightforward, easy-to-understand language for those intimidated by complex, labyrinthine programming requirements.
With Sumerian, Amazon joins several other companies invested in the development of AR and VR, some of them being Microsoft, Apple, and Google. The online retail company hopes to make its VR app creator as versatile as possible. That's why it supports Apple's ARKit platform and, soon, Google ARCore.
Sumerian is entirely free to use, but seeing as it's built on AWS, developers need to have an existing AWS account to access it. For now, Sumerian is invite-only, but interested developers can request access to the preview.
Check out some photos of Sumerian in action below: