We have reported on Apple's ARKit as well as Google's ARCore - both being a major step for the 2 largest tech giants to move into the AR markets. However, they are no longer alone! Amazon Web Services now has their own free (sort of) AR content creation tool - Amazon Sumerian.
This is another big step for the future of Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality, especially in the B2B and B2C fields, as Sumerian provides another service for business professionals to create their own applications without any development needed. With major players such as Apple, Google, and Amazon all driving the tech and content creation platforms forward, we can expect even more well-known providers and solutions to join them on the playing field as companies try to grab a piece of the AR/VR market (for example Mozilla also just launched their own AR tools). This is the perfect storm for technology development. Healthy competition not only rapidly advances tech solutions but also increases acceptance on the consumer side as prefered brands offer additional high-value services to existing customers within their ecosystems.
Unlike its Apple and Google counterparts, Sumerian just covers the content creation part. And rather than just focusing on AR, the platform also caters for VR content creation as well as other 3D needs - such as for MR applications. This is quite unique as it means that you can now create content for most AR and VR devices such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices (support for Android ARCore coming soon) all in one place. The service is free to use, but like most Amazon services, you will eventually have to pay for the storage of any content you have created.
Since Sumerian only covers the content side of things, Amazon is clearly placing a considerable amount of faith into the technologies surrounding each of the current AR / VR platforms and standalone hardware systems. For example, they have made a big bet that the ARKit / ARCore platforms tracking technologies are good enough to generate enough business for masses of authors who want to create their own AR content without developers (the same applies to the VR Systems such as the Oculus and the HTC Vive).
What do we think?
Well... Amazon must see a huge market potential if they are committing so heavily to a content creation tool that relies completely on the core AR platforms and VR hardware technologies (tracking etc). This also makes Sumerian unique - it is the only service capable of creating and publishing content to most AR and VR platforms. The ability to connect to all other AWS services also makes Sumerian quite powerful and very attractive for marketers. Overall, it is great for creating less complicated AR experiences easily. If you are looking to make your own specialized business and industrial AR scenarios that can be created inside your data and team workflows, Sumerian is most likely not for you. Instead, you want to look at platforms such as REFLEKT ONE which is more targeted to meet enterprise and industrial needs. With Sumerian, we predict to see a lot more AR and VR content on Amazon similar to IKEA Place to guide, convince and sell Amazon products and bringing AR into everyday life.
Don't forget, Amazon already dipped their toes into the AR pool earlier this year with the launch of AR in their mobile app. Sumerian is the tool to fuel Amazon AR with content that can be created by Amazon resellers themselves to help sell their products. The step after this would be to add live technical AR support to item deliveries (just like you can pay for added services for larger items to be installed or Amazon warranties).
Also, we have to mention their "lifelike hosts" to guide users through experiences is pretty cool - (even though the voice may be a little creepy in the sample) we couldn't stop referring to the Sims when we first saw this... and everybody loved to play that.