For months we have been hearing that Amazon would use its Re: Invent AWS event to launch a new service related to the construction of mixed reality: augmented reality and virtual reality. And on the eve of the conference, it's done. Today the company announced Amazon Sumerian, a new platform for developers to build and host VR, AR and 3D applications quickly and with minimal coding, for smartphones and tablets, head-based displays, digital signage and web browsers. As with many other AWS services, Sumerian is for "free" use: you only pay for the storage of what you create.
The service, announced at the event prior to AWS's "Midnight Madness", is available in preview from today. Initially, the service is browser-based and works in any browser that supports the representation of WebGL or WebVR graphics, such as Daydream, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and iOS mobile devices.
Amazon says that the different Sumerian features in preview include the ability to design in immersive AR, VR and 3D environments using libraries of pre-built objects; the ability to create animated characters (using his speech recognition Lex and Polly for the understanding of natural language); and then send the applications to various hardware.
It is also being integrated with third-party developers for certain functions; These include Mapbox for location services.
AWS naming the Sumerian service – the language spoken by the Sumer people of Mesopotamia – is an interesting option and fits in with the Amazon concept behind the service.
Sumerian (the original language) was one of the first written languages in the world and is considered the basis of many languages that followed. Amazon's thinking behind Sumerian (the AWS product) is that it is trying to incorporate AR, VR and 3D into the mainstream by building a set of tools to make it much easier to use.
"Customers from all industries see the potential of virtual reality and AR technologies for a wide range of uses, from educating and training employees to creating new customer experiences," Marco said. Argenti Vice President of Technology of AWS, in a statement. "But customers are intimidated and overwhelmed by the initial investment in specialized skills and tools needed to even start building an AR or virtual reality application." With Amazon Sumerian, it is now possible for any developer to create a realistic VR or AR application. interactive in a few hours ".
It does so through the creation of many preconfigured building blocks to create applications quickly and with less coding to cover the basic elements such as inanimate objects and the foundations of a human form.
Amazon has been making a series of acquisitions to help build its position in AR and VR and the new wave of computing. They have included Body Fail Body Labs and GameSparks, a platform to build games. I would say that you can see something of that technological and general approach coming to the fore here here as well.
In fact, it is often not obvious how Amazon will once again deploy talent and technology in its products in the future. One of the people who has been leading the company's mixed reality efforts on AWS is Kyle Roche, who came to Amazon with the acquisition of IoT startup 2lemetry. Roche also had augmented reality experience. He is now the general manager of Sumerian.
According to the idea of trying to promote more development of AR and VR, Amazon is also creating a series of indicators to direct people to different types of applications, which is critical, given that one of the great criticism of Mixed reality services is that applications for technology must still demonstrate that they are "essential".
Amazon is focusing here on very practical endpoints: "training simulations, virtual concierge services, online enhancements, shopping experiences, virtual home, or ground tours" are among the names that could be improved by the use of environments virtual villages with animation and 3D and more natural interactions with users.
The service also gathers a lot of AWS has been doing in other areas, trying to simplify the new computer applications that would otherwise be complex. Last week, the company announced a new consultancy to help people build more services based on artificial intelligence, and last month announced Gluon, a creator of simplified machine learning models.
The bigger picture here is that the new wave of computing and technology has a lot of coding and other processes that consume a lot of time behind it, and Amazon wants to be the one that modernizes and simplifies it, thus becoming the default platform to create applications in that new technology.
(This is no different from Apple's earlier push to demystify computers by making them super-easy to use for the average consumer, at a time when the pre-existing basic home computer still required a tin hat to use) .