Amazon Web Services launches platform to build AR, VR and 3D apps

Amazon jumps into virtual reality with Sumerian for building VR apps in the cloud

Amazon launches cloud-based 3D editor

Amazon today revealed a new service called Sumerian that allows anyone to create and run augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and 3D applications easily. Sumerian requires no downloading of software - it is entirely Web-based - and "customers pay only for the storage used for 3D assets and the volume of traffic generated to access the virtual scenes they create". This is not a simple 3D content creation tool like Microsoft's Paint 3D or Google's Poly, it is a whole suite of tools and services with which one can build multi-platform experiences that run on hardware like the Oculus, HTC Vive, and iOS devices using WebVR compatible browsers and Android devices using ARCore. 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.

Amazon launched the project at midnight on Sunday at the launch of the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, which continues through this week. The Sumerian tools let customers create 3D characters, called "Hosts" (which, by the way, also is what the AI robots in HBO's "Westworld" are called), to narrate and guide users through immersive scenes. Sumerian allows developers to build realistic virtual environments and then populate them with 3D objects and animated characters.

However, Unity Labs EVP Sylvio Drouin told Ars a year ago that the Unity Labs team has focused heavily on making its own way for creatives to build VR worlds without advanced technical knowledge. Deploying those apps is also a problem, because each platform has its own unique specifications and processes that need to be tackled. The hosts will be integrated with Amazon Polly and Lex to deliver natural language abilities, not unlike those present on the Alexa personal assistant.

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In a press release, Marco Argenti, Vice President, Technology, AWS 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".

The service is now in preview.

Sumerian, which is now in limited preview, is meant to be free to AWS users, with users paying only for storage for 3D assets and traffic to access applications.

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