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Amazon Sumerian – Create VR/AR Applications with No Experience

Posted on November 27, 2017 by PhilZonaPhilZona

We’ve been talking about it for weeks, and it’s finally here…AWS re:Invent 2017! This week in Las Vegas, Amazon will host more than a thousand breakout sessions, challenges, and events. In between sessions, they’ll be announcing some of their biggest updates to the AWS platform. And it seems they’re not wasting any time – they’ve already announced (in my opinion) one of their coolest services yet: Amazon Sumerian.

What is Amazon Sumerian?

Amazon Sumerian marks a huge entry into one of the only areas AWS has yet to tap into – augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). Early demos and previews of the environments Sumerian produces are on par with existing 3D rendering software, and you can see one for yourself here.
Here’s the selling point, though – Sumerian is billed as “no expertise necessary.” Those who have worked with 3D graphics before can tell you the complexities that are involved. Amazon Sumerian aims to remove those barriers and make AR/VR (and 3D environment creation in general) accessible to everyone through an easy-to-use interface.
At launch, Sumerian supports 3D asset imports in FBX and OBJ formats with Unity support coming soon. However, it also comes with a library of presets and template objects so you can start creating environments right away if you have no experience working with AR/VR. You can also use a pre-created Host, which is described by Amazon as an “animated, lifelike 3D character that can be customized for gender, voice, and language” to guide users around your scene. One of the biggest benefits to almost every Amazon Web Service is integration with other services, and true to this, Hosts can integrate with Amazon Polly or Lex for a completely customized language experience.
The biggest feature that makes Sumerian so accessible is its scripting library. Through a set of built-in methods, you can interact with objects in your 3D scene using JavaScript, a language many beginners are already familiar with. Based on one user’s preview, the JavaScript code seems very accessible. Even without extensive expertise in 3D rendering, I’m seeing parallels to other JavaScript libraries (specifically, React and its component lifecycle methods).
Amazon Sumerian is currently in preview, and you do need to apply for access (you can do so on the main product page, here). With AR/VR making such a huge impact in the tech industry, and Amazon’s latest offering is sure to be worth checking out.
Want more updates from AWS re:Invent 2017? We’ll be covering every major announcement here as they happen, so be sure to check back for updates and subscribe to our blog!


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