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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.

Amazon writes, "Amazon Sumerian solves these challenges by providing a web-based editor that developers can use to easily and quickly create professional-quality scenes, and a visual scripting tool to build the logic that controls how the objects and characters in the scenes behave and respond to actions".

This news comes as one of the first announcements out of AWS re:Invent, the cloud provider's major conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The move taps into growing interest in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which involve the use of 3D environments or elements overlaid upon the user's surroundings for applications such as training simulations, virtual concierge services, online shopping or virtual property tours. In any case, users of the toolkit can create animated characters that interact with the player or customer verbally. Amazon Sumerian is a solution that aims to make it easier for developers to build virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D applications.

In the enterprise, AR and VR are poised to make a big impact. According to Amazon, the main problem with AR- and VR-powered apps is that creating them requires expertise in using a wide range of tools, including things such as 3D modeling, environmental design, animation and audio editing. You'll just need to pay for the storage space your creations take up.


Once users have built an experience in Sumerian, it can run on hardware such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and iPhone.

The announcement blog post highlights the biggest benefit of this service: The fact that it's so readily available: You can check out the preview version of the service now on any browser that supports WebGL or WebVR graphics rendering.

Naturally, you can drag and drop assets directly into the scene. "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". Subscribers can embed their own objects, choose from a pre-loaded library, or use third-party offerings from repositories including Sketchfab and Turbosquid.

The Amazon Sumerian also assists with mapping services from Mapbox. These hosts integrate with Amazon Polly and Lex to provide natural language capabilities similar to those underpinning the Alexa virtual assistant.


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