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With Sumerian, AWS Helps Devs Build VR and 3-D Apps

Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Monday took the wraps off Amazon Sumerian, a new service for developers looking to start building apps using 3-D, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Launched as a preview during the kickoff of the 2017 AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week, Sumerian lets developers create and run 3-D scenes in as little as minutes, without the need for extensive or specialized 3-D programming knowledge.

AWS technical evangelist Tara Walker outlined a few of Sumerian's features in this blog post. They include an easy-to-use Web-based dashboard that walks developers through the steps of creating a scene in 3-D. Users can import a 3-D asset of their choosing into the dashboard. Currently, Sumerian only supports FBX and OBJ files, though AWS plans to add Unity support "soon," according to Walker.

Sumerian also includes a set of pre-built 3-D scene backgrounds and objects, including a lineup of "hosts," which are 3-D characters that users can customize in a variety of ways, such as gender, appearance and speech. Integration with AWS' artificial intelligence services like Polly and Lex also lets users bring natural language capabilities to their hosts.

[Click on image for larger view.] Users can design their own 3-D "host" in the Sumerian dashboard. (Source: AWS)

Users can add more customization to their scenes -- for instance, set the rules for how an object behaves -- using the JavaScript scripting library or the Sumerian visual editor. "Additionally, the scripting library can be used with AWS Lambda allowing use of the full range of AWS services," Walker said.

Users can save their finished scenes on the AWS cloud and access them via a unique URL. They can then run the scenes on a supported virtual reality device (a WebVR-compatible browser is required). Apps built on Sumerian can run on headsets from Oculus and the HTC Vive, as well as Apple iOS devices. Support for ARCore on Android devices is also in the pipeline.

More information on Sumerian, including preview sign-ups, is available here.

More from AWS re:Invent 2017:

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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