Amazon launches new tool aimed at people creating VR and AR apps

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Immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality could soon become much more commonplace thanks to the launch early Monday morning of a new development platform by Amazon Web Services Inc. That includes mobile devices, web browsers and head-mounted displays such as Facebook Inc.'s Oculus Rift. It leverages AWS services such as Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, AWS Lambda, AWS IoT, and Amazon DynamoDB.

Apps created in Sumerian are said to work in "any browser that supports WebGL or WebVR graphics rendering, including Daydream, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and iOS mobile devices".

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. Sumerian allows developers to build realistic virtual environments and then populate them with 3D objects and animated characters. That engine is widely used among AR and VR developers, and providing a bridge between Unity and Sumerian could help attract developers. It also allows anyone to import objects from third-party asset repositories such as Sketchfab or Turbosquid, or create and import their own objects.

The new tool looks like it could be aiming to lure away developers from software like Unreal Engine and Unity which are used to make the majority of VR and AR apps now available. The app developer does not need advance coding skills to use Sumerian as the service includes the drag and drop interface along with a visual scripting tool to design the logic that would determine the behavior and response of objects and characters in the scene, notes Road To VR. 3D objects (e.g. furniture, buildings, and natural objects) and characters can be place into into "scenes" (e.g. rooms, office environments, and landscapes).

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. "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", said Marco Argenti, Vice President, Technology, AWS. "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". The service is priced according to the amount of storage used for 3D assets and traffic volume.