Amazon Sumerian Makes Developing Web-Based VR/AR Apps Easier

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For those pivoting to video, or others who are just getting started, Amazon Web Services released five new video tools built by AWS Elemental that make it easier to use cloud computing as the engine for video distribution.

Amazon announced a new service at the AWS re:Invent Midnight Madness event. 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.

The browser-based tool is available in limited preview today.

The move comes after Google launched Poly, a platform that lets you find, view, and download free AR and VR objects and scenes-everything from a rocket ship to a sandcastle, piano, and pirate. Hardware including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS devices support the content created with Sumerian.

But AR and VR experiences are still few and far between, not least because most developers lack the special skills needed to incorporate it into their applications.

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The editor allows users to import 3D objects into scenes and includes features such as scripting, animation, and integration with Amazon's cloud services. Subscribers can embed their own objects, choose from a pre-loaded library, or use third-party offerings from repositories including Sketchfab and Turbosquid. That said, it is built on the WebGL JavaScript and WebVR JavaScript APIs, and it offers a JavaScript editor and scripting library.

The retail giant debuted software tools on Monday called Amazon (amzn) Sumerian that are meant to help coders more easily build virtual reality and augmented reality apps using 3D computer graphics. 3D objects (e.g. furniture, buildings, and natural objects) and characters can be place into into "scenes" (e.g. rooms, office environments, and landscapes).

Sumerian allows developers to design VR, AR, and 3D environments using drag and drop as well as a library of pre-built objects and templates with pre-populated 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". "For instance, we integrated Mapbox's points of interest and global terrain maps with Amazon Sumerian so data is delivered and rendered in real-time".

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