From our Lab

Amazon Delivers on AR Tools

The innovations coming out of Amazon these days is astounding. Even for someone as immersed in new technology as I am, its incredible how fast things are moving. The latest Amazon cloud based service I dove into the other night is the Amazon Sumerian platform. I had just noticed that they released an AR framework to their existing VR tools. I’m not exactly sure when this went primetime but this post highlights my experience with it so far.

I am more interested in Augmented Reality these days than VR. Having created content for Microsoft Hololens, Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore coupled with a lifetime of CAD viewers, I am always on the search for ANY tool that can ease the process to get our 3D models into any one of the platforms that can display AR content.

I gotta say, for a “Non CAD” company, Amazon sure nailed this one beautifully. The editing tools feel a lot like any 3D platform I’ve used. Similar to Unity or even a native CAD systems. Several features even made it much easier to use for setting up AR. The project setup and importing and manipulation of models was seamless. One of the more interesting features are the lifelike characters that can be added to a scene. You can select a host type, customize them and create text for them to speak. There is even a very advanced editor to add actions for movements and trigger events. Amazon calls these characters “Hosts”.

A screen shot below shows the main interface running 100% in the browser.

I added a substation model from Autodesk Inventor along with a host. I created some simple text for the host to speak so I could test how this would look in Augmented Reality and explore the idea of having a character like this talking to an end user explaining the features of a model or product.

Once the project was all setup in the Sumerian editor all I had to do was publish it and retain the web link created by the publish process. All that was needed from there was to compile one of the sample Amazon github projects. There are various projects depending on which device you want to run the AR viewer on. I found projects for AR Core and AR Kit along with several other VR platforms. I used the ARKit project compiled with xcode and only had to change the link to my Sumerian project generated during publishing.

The video below shows my finished project running on an iPad. hint: Turn the sound on to hear the Amazon host talking about my model.

Notice how the host continuously follows the camera. I made selected the option to have him look at the camera at all times. You can add any interaction like this including custom speech, gestures or movements to have the host interacting with the user as they review the model. It makes for a terrific interactive experience.

What a great training tool this could be. Imagine a virtual assistant walking you through training or interacting with objects you point your phone or tablet at?

Nice job Amazon.