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Virtual reality (VR) technology developer Engage XR reported “positive progress” on the development of its enterprise-focussed ‘metaverse’ platform on Thursday, as well as further growth of its proprietary software platform ‘Engage’.
The AIM-traded firm said that ahead of the launch of its ‘Engage Link’ metaverse offering for enterprises in the fourth quarter, it could confirm both HTC and the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University as launch partners.
It said the two organisations would use the platform to build and design their own ‘metaworlds’, enabling them to interact with stakeholders, host real business dealings and professional virtual events within the Engage ecosystem.
The company said its metaverse platform was divided into ‘plazas’.
HTC would be situated within the ‘enterprise plaza’, and the Virtual Human Interaction Lab would be part of the ‘education plaza’.
Stanford’s metaworld would be based on its virtual reality lab, and would provide visitors an insight into the “bleeding edge research” being undertaken at the university.
The group said it anticipated announcing further Engage Link launch partners in due course.
On the Engage platform, meanwhile, the company said it had secured a “significant” customer renewal with South Korean company D’Carrick Co, which signed a new deal worth €0.3m (£0.26m) over three years.
That would extend a successful three-year relationship, initially worth €70k per annum.
“Today’s announcement is just a quick snapshot of what’s happening at Engage XR,” said chief executive officer David Whelan.
“We will have more news and updates in the coming months with the launch of Engage Link expected towards the latter half of this year.
With Engage Link, we are building a completely distributive economic environment for forward-thinking enterprises and individuals to build the future of work, commerce and communications.”
Whelan said Engage Link would be the first time clients would have publicly accessible, always on, persistent locations to advertise their business and services directly to the general public and to potential clients.
“Clients can build out their own unique metaverse for private company use, or make it available to the wider world on Engage Link or via their own website using our deep links system.
“Just as the emergence of the internet changed the world in the late 1990s, the professional metaverse will change business practices globally with how we communicate with our employees, our customers and each other.”
At 1207 BST, shares in Engage XR Holdings were up 8% at 13.5p.
Reporting by Josh White at Sharecast.com.
HTC is expected to launch a new mobile phone with metaverse features on Tuesday, as the virtual reality (VR) gear and smartphone maker continues its Web3 expansion.
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Cannabis companies are using the metaverse to set up shops, promote their core product, and sell real-world merchandise and nonfungible tokens.
Major brands such as Miller Lite, Wendy’s,
and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have also experimented with using digital worlds for marketing, but cannabis marketers think the metaverse could offer some advantages of particular interest to them.
To the degree that the metaverse operates on the principles of Web3, in which decentralization replaces corporate control over the web, cannabis marketers might be able to talk up their products more freely than they can on platforms such as
founder and chief executive of the Cannabis Marketing Association.
“It is a wide open space in Web3…regulators haven’t wrapped their head around it yet,” Ms. Buffo said.
Higher Life CBD Dispensary LLC in December opened a store in Voxels, a metaverse-like platform that was called Cryptovoxels until a rebrand in May. The company partnered with Saucey Farms & Extracts LLC in February to take over the store’s second floor.
Virtual visitors can’t order Higher Life’s CBD products directly within the virtual store, but they can click a mock cash register to visit Higher Life’s website and order CBD products there.
About a thousand people visit the store a day, said
chief executive of Higher Life.
Saucey’s floor includes another cash register, which again leads to a website where visitors can shop, in this case for non-cannabis merchandise such as grinders.
Saucey hasn’t sold many items to visitors who click its cash register, said
co-founder of the company. But Saucey expects that to change when more people join the metaverse, he said.
The metaverse is perhaps within five years of actually being able to sell cannabis, Mr. Todd said, predicting U.S. federal regulations prohibiting the sale of the product could ease in that time frame.
Meanwhile, NFTs can help Saucey spread awareness of the brand, particularly as more people join the metaverse and seek clothes and accessories for their avatars, he said.
“It is going to be a great tool for the cannabis space,” he said.
Cannabis brand Kandy Girl, which is known for selling a THC-infused gummy that can ship to all 50 states, acquired land in Decentraland in December to promote the company and sell NFTs. It has sold and given away virtual wearables with accompanying NFTs, including wings that look like marijuana leaves. Its NFT sales in Decentraland have totaled about $30,000 so far, Kandy Girl said.
But there aren’t enough users currently to take the effort to the next level, said
chief marketing officer at Kandy Girl, which is owned by Boyce Capital LLC.
“When there’s a million people logged into a metaverse at any given time, that’s when it is going to make sense to staff [a virtual] dispensary with a real live human being,” Mr. Boyce said.
For now, cannabis brands are enjoying the relative freedom of the metaverse, where they can use tactics that are often prohibited on dominant digital advertising platforms such as Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram and
Meta’s community standards ban content, whether paid advertising or unpaid organic content, “that attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate or gift or asks for marijuana.” Its advertising policies say companies “must not promote the sale or use of illicit or recreational drugs.”
Metaverse platforms have varying rules around cannabis.
But Decentraland and Voxels said they work with cannabis companies.
“We have supported various NFT cannabis communities—as long as they meet the terms and conditions,” said
Adam de Cata,
head of partnerships at Decentraland.
Cannabis companies that open in Decentraland need to observe legal regulations, including not serving users in countries where the product is prohibited, said
creative director of Decentraland Foundation, which builds tools for the platform and handles its marketing.
But “as a decentralized platform, it is not the Foundation’s role to curate user-generated content or police the philosophies of the community,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Voxels prohibits selling cannabis on its platform, but has no objection if its users open simulated dispensaries on its platform, said
founder of the company.
Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at firstname.lastname@example.org
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