Amazon announced yesterday its new service for building virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D applications, named Amazon Sumerian, during the AWS re:Invent Midnight Madness kick-off event. Sumerian does not require any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise and enables developers to create immersive and interactive scenes compatible with popular hardware such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices, with support for Android ARCore coming soon.
Sumerian also allows the creation of 3D characters, called Hosts, which developers can use to build virtual classrooms or virtual environments that enables people to tour buildings remotely, for example. The service is currently in Preview and features:
- Editor: A web-based editor for constructing 3D scenes, importing assets, scripting interactions and special effects, with cross-platform publishing.
- Object Library: a library of pre-built objects and templates.
- Asset Import: Upload 3D assets to use in your scene. Sumerian supports importing FBX, OBJ, and coming soon Unity projects.
- Hosts: Animated, lifelike 3D characters that can be customized for gender, voice, and language.
- AWS Services Integration: Baked in integration with Amazon Polly and Amazon Lex to add speech and natural language to into Sumerian hosts. Additionally, the scripting library can be used with AWS Lambda allowing use of the full range of AWS services.
Some use cases suggested by Amazon include employee education and training simulations to help employees better retain information and get hands-on training in specialized fields, virtual concierge, retail and sales services to improve customer's experience, and the improvement of product design cycles by allowing designers, creative professionals, and business professionals to visualize products.
Amazon Sumerian is free of charge during the current Preview and will also offer a Free Tier with a 50MB published scene capable of receiving 100 views per month for free, for the first 12 months. After that, the creation of AR and VR applications will not be charged, instead, Amazon will profit from the amount of storage used, the volume of traffic generated, and the use of any other AWS services, such as Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly.