February 07, 2019     9 min read

AWS Sumerian Magic Cube

AWS Sumerian Magic Cube

Get the code for this post!


In this post, we're going to go over the full implementation of a small example application using AWS Sumerian with AWS IoT connected devices. Sumerian is; at its heart, a simple scene editor for browsers with a bunch of game engine attributes that you'd expect from a 3D environment creator.

Before we jump into Sumerian, I'll give you an overview of the embedded code we'll be using in this post.


Our embedded device we'll be using is one I designed and built out for over a couple of iterations at Hackathons over the last year. We proved our designs at the AWS IoT App Challenge where we won an honorable mention.

Magic cube device hardware
Magic cube device hardware

Bill of Materials

Note, prices vary; I would recommend checking AliExpress if you don't mind the wait.

Device Schematic

The following is a very high-level schematic. It isn't entirely correct (excludes the Micro LiPo charging circuit).

aws sumerian esp8266 circuit design

Certificate Vending Machine

This project makes use of the IoT Certificate Vending Machine. Rather than repeat me I would recommend checking out a previous blog post Create a Private VPN using AWS IoT Button, SNS & CloudFormation where we go over in detail how to set it up. The code and technical instructions also live on GitHub

Firmware Flashing

The specific details for flashing the board will not be covered in this post, however, checking the README within the GitHub project will overview the specifics. At a high level, you will need to perform the following steps

#ifndef MAIN_H

// Wifi Details
const char *ssid = "WiFi SSID";
const char *password = "wifi-pass";

const String thing_id = "devopstar-accl-01";

// AWS MQTT Details
const char* aws_mqtt_server = "xxxxxxxxxxxx-ats.iot.us-east-1.amazonaws.com";
const char* aws_mqtt_client_id = "devopstar-accl-01";
const char* aws_mqtt_thing_topic_pub = "$aws/things/devopstar-accl-01/shadow/update";
const char* aws_mqtt_thing_topic_sub = "devopstar/sumerian/accl-group";


Note: In this tutorial, you must publish directly to the device Shadow rather than the topic itself.

  • Upload Certificates
## create the cert files based on the output from the Cert vending machine
openssl x509 -in aws/certs/certificate.pem.crt -out data/cert.der -outform DER
openssl rsa -in aws/certs/private.pem.key -out data/private.der -outform DER
openssl x509 -in aws/certs/root-CA.pem -out data/ca.der -outform DER
## Then upload the certificates using SPIFFS
pio run -t uploadfs
  • Build and Compile code to the device

Once you have these steps complete you should be able to give the sensor a shake and have it trigger the transmission of the raw accelerator data over MQTT to AWS IoT

[WIFI] WiFi connected on
[CERTS] Heap: 43424
[CERTS] Success to open cert file
[CERTS] cert loaded
[CERTS] Success to open private cert file
[CERTS] private key loaded
[CERTS] Success to open ca
[CERTS] ca loaded
[CERTS] Heap: 34912
[AWS] Attempting MQTT connection...[AWS] connected
[AWS MQTT] Publish Message:{"state":{"reported":{"a_x":-0.004788,"a_y":2.461239,"a_z":-18.78012}}}
[AWS MQTT] Publish Message:{"state":{"reported":{"a_x":3.744531,"a_y":-0.158017,"a_z":-19.6133}}}
[AWS MQTT] Publish Message:{"state":{"reported":{"a_x":0.545878,"a_y":-4.084508,"a_z":-9.888053}}}

AWS Sumerian

We have the hardware out of the way now, so let's focus on the real work which is to set up a simple scene in AWS Sumerian.

Cognito User Pool [Prerequisite]

You will need to set up a simple AWS Cognito User pool that the website that AWS Sumerian runs on with be able to use in order to assume the permissions needed to poll and update AWS IoT topics.

We'll use a nice script that was provided by the Amazon Cognito Setup guide. The CloudFormation template can be run using the following command

aws cloudformation create-stack \
    --stack-name "AmazonSumerianIotDataTutorialStack" \
    --template-body file://aws-cf/iot-thing-tutorial-template.yml \
    --capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM

Once deployed, run the following to retrieve the User Pool ID for the next step.

aws cloudformation describe-stacks --stack-name "AmazonSumerianIotDataTutorialStack" \
    --query 'Stacks[0].Outputs[?OutputKey==`CognitoIdentityPoolID`].OutputValue' \
    --output text

Create a Simple Scene

It should be first noted that this part of the tutorial (just the first bit) copies very heavily from the fantastic example on the Sumerian docs page titled IoT Thing, Shadow and Script Actions. If you would prefer to follow their docs, by all means, check them out; however we are expanding on the simple implementation they use in the post.

Navigate to the Sumerian dashboard and select a new scene. Give the scene a name and then hit Create

aws sumerian new scene box

Once the scene editor has opened up; Click the name of your Scene in the top left to select it then on the right under AWS Configuration:

aws sumerian scene configuration

Note: If you are reading this in the far away future, you can get the latest and greatest version of the SDK from HERE

Add Entities to the Scene

Now the scene is prepared for development, we're going to create two Entities (Game Objects if you are use to Unity3D speak). Create a 3D Box, and a 3D Quad

aws sumerian scene add entities
3D Box Configuration
aws sumerian scene box config

With the Box selected, open up its Transform Settings:

  • Set Y position to 2

Then open up the Box's Material Settings

  • Set the Color to a Red
3D Quad Configuration
aws sumerian scene quad config

With the Box selected, open up its Transform Settings:

  • Set X Rotation to -90
  • Set X, Y, Z Scale to 20

Then open up the Box's Material Settings

  • Set the Color to a Blue

Entity Collision

If you try pressing play on your Scene now you'll find that basically, nothing happens. This is because none of the Entities have any physics attributes. Let's go ahead and add a new Component to our Box by selecting Add Component under the Entity; then select Collider

aws sumerian scene box collider

Once the Collider has been added; confirm that the settings for it have it set to be a Box collider.

aws sumerian scene box collider settings

Perform the same steps for the Quad, except ensure it's set up with an Infinite Plane as its Shape.

aws sumerian scene quad collider settings

The final thing we need to add to our Box before gravity will work as expected is a Rigid Body. This allows you to define physics properties for the selected Entity. We only need this applied to our Box!

aws sumerian scene box ridgedbody settings

Press Play and give it a test!

State Machine

We now need to work out a way to take the AWS IoT data from our sensor and pipe it to the Entity in a clean way. Luckily we have a Component called a State Machine for this very reason. The State Machine will allow us to attach Scripts to different States our Box is in. To begin, add a State Machine Component to your Box

aws sumerian scene box state machine

Click + to create a new Behavior. Within the Behavior (in the bottom State Machine panel) create 4 states with the names:

  • Init
  • Wait
  • Get Thing
  • Move Box
aws sumerian scene box state machine states

Also, ensure that the "Init" state has the Set As Initial State box pressed.

State Actions

For each of the four states, you will need to Add Actions. To do this, select the State and the in the right had Behavior panel, click Add Action


Search for "sdk ready" and select AWS SDK Ready. This will ensure that the Init state on the Entity will proceed when the SDK is finished loading.

aws sumerian scene box action init

Search for "Wait" and select Wait. We're going to use this as our default state, before checking for a value in AWS IoT.

aws sumerian scene box action wait

Then under the Settings for Wait Time, set the value to 200ms. This means that the State will wait 200ms before proceeding to the next.

aws sumerian scene box action wait settings

Get Thing

Search for "Script" and select Script. This block allows us to add custom scriptable logic to our State Machine. On the settings for this Block click the + next to Drop Script. Edit the Script Name to be Get Thing Script and then add in the following code block.

'use strict';

function enter(args, ctx) {
	window.AWSIotData.getThingShadow({ thingName: 'devopstar-accl-01' }, (error, data) => {
		if (error) {
			console.error('Error getting state', error);

			return ctx.transitions.failure();

		const payload = JSON.parse(data.payload);

		ctx.behaviorData.a_x = payload.state.reported.a_x;
		ctx.behaviorData.a_y = payload.state.reported.a_y;
		ctx.behaviorData.a_z = payload.state.reported.a_z;


function exit(args, ctx) {

var parameters = [];

You should have an editor that looks like the following, with the script name on the left and the code on the Right.

aws sumerian scene box action script 01

The code in this block is responsible for checking the value in the AWS IoT Thing device devopstar-accl-01. Then taking the values for a_x, a_y and a_z and blocking them into an item behaviorData within the Entities object.

Then once it has pulled the value successfully, it moves on to the next success state.

Move Box

For this action, it is very similar to the last; add a Script and Name it Move Box Script and add the following code

'use strict';

function enter(args, ctx) {
	try {
		var boxForce = new sumerian.Vector3(

		if (ctx.behaviorData.a_x != 0 || ctx.behaviorData.a_x != 0 || ctx.behaviorData.a_x != 0) {
				thingName: 'devopstar-accl-01',
				payload: '{\"state": {\"reported\": {\"a_x\": 0,\"a_y\": 0,\"a_z\": 0}}}'}, 
					(error, data) => { console.log(error) }
	} catch (error) {
		console.error('Error rotating box', error);

		return ctx.transitions.failure();


function exit(args, ctx){}

var parameters = [];

Again, the code should look something like the following if done correctly.

aws sumerian scene box action script 02

The Move box function looks more complicated than it is. The behaviorData from the previous success state is passed into a new Vector3 object. Then this Vector is applied to the Entity's rigid body as an angular velocity (hopefully making it move in the same direction as how we move the sensor).

Once a force has been applied, the shadow state of the thing named devopstar-accl-01 is updated with 0, 0, 0 so the same force isn't re-applied.

State Machine Transitions

Lucky last thing we need to do is to simply connect all the States Success / Failure nodes

aws sumerian scene box state machine flow


Let's give this a try. Start running the Scene and connect the sensor to AWS IoT. Then give the device a shake.


DevOpStar by Nathan Glover | 2024