Amazon's Big Bet on AR and VR, Minus the Headset

April 17, 2018
Updated 2mo ago

A giant corporation is preparing to let loose an army of walking and talking A.I. characters called "hosts," which might have you questioning the nature of your reality. No, it's not the plot of season two of "Westworld."

Amazon is expected to launch Sumerian, its augmented and virtual reality development platform, next month. Unlike Microsoft, Sony, and Google before it, the e-commerce giant's A.I. plans do not include any headsets or special devices.((https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2496299,00.asp)

Built on the Amazon Web Services cloud, Sumerian is a web-based drag-and-drop interface designed to make AR and VR app development easy for experienced developers and those with no coding experience. It's also platform-agnostic, allowing creators to make AR apps for Android and iOS, and to create VR programs that can be integrated with the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

"If they're going to make a big bet on AR/VR this is definitely a safer way to do it," said Rob Marvin, the associate features editor at PCMag. He recently got an exclusive look at the platform ahead of its wide release.

Marvin was able to demo two apps built on the platform: a virtual meteorologist's weather forecast from WeatherBug and a new program from Electronic Caregiver that helps elderly patients assess their risk of falling. Both examples make use of Sumerian's A.I.-enabled hosts. The characters are meant to add a human-ish element to the virtual and augmented reality scenes.

Marvin said Amazon also sees great potential in Sumerian for the Internet of Things, interactive display advertising, online retail, and virtual training.

For full interview, click here.