Inside Sumerian, Amazon's Big Bet On AR/VR

Inside Sumerian, Amazon's Big Bet On AR/VR
April 17, 2018

Amazon is making a grand entrance into the augmented and virtual reality space with Sumerian, an all-in-one development platform that can build AR and VR apps for smartphones and headsets, and—soon enough—AR/VR apps that’ll run right in your browser. Within these experiences, Sumerian can create immersive virtual worlds populated by “hosts”—3D characters brought to life by the same artificial intelligence tech that powers Alexa.


Sumerian is platform-agnostic. Rather than developing its own branded device or headset, Amazon opted for integration with existing offerings.


Sumerian is built on open web standards and supports both Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, meaning app creators can build one Sumerian app that runs on Android, iOS, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and beyond. As a new addition to Amazon Web Services, Sumerian is priced using that service’s usage-based model instead of a subscription and connects to other AWS services.


Amazon released a Sumerian preview in November when it was first announced, but ahead of its expected May launch, PCMag got an exclusive look inside Sumerian and a few early customer apps. Kyle Roche, General Manager of Amazon Sumerian, took me through a demo of the 3D app-creation platform.


I got a tour of Sumerian’s drag-and-drop app editor and 3D object library, its Visual State Machine for scripting complex automated scenes, and went inside the process of creating artificially intelligent hosts, which you can have full conversations with inside these virtual experiences. I also spoke to Marco Argenti, a VP who oversees not only AR/VR, but also the AWS Mobile, Serverless Computing, and IoT divisions

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