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Engage XR secures launch partners for ‘enterprise metaverse’



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

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Metaverse features expected in HTC’s new phone



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. 

See related article: Smartphone giant Huawei doubles down on blockchain technology

Fast facts

  • In a tweet earlier in June, HTC’s VR and metaverse arm Viverse teased a phone-shaped graphic without disclosing additional details or specifications.
  • HTC hasn’t responded to Forkast’s request for comment by press time.
  • The Taiwanese consumer electronics firm has shifted its focus to VR gear production, with its latest phone release dating back to January 2021.
  • Chaoying Huang, HTC’s general manager for APAC, said in March that the company intends to roll out a metaverse-related phone in 2022, clarifying HTC was not ditching the smartphone business, Taiwanese tech media Business Next reported.
  • In 2017, Google bought a US$1.1 billion slice of HTC’s smartphone hardware business.
  • HTC is among the early phone makers to experiment with blockchain technology.

See related article: Samsung joins South Korean pilot to test CBDC on Galaxy smartphone

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Developers In India Key To Metaverse: Meta India Md | Bengaluru News



Bengaluru: Meta, the parent company of Facebook, expects a lot of the software work and applications related to the metaverse to happen out of India. Ajit Mohan, VP & MD for India at Meta, said the country will have the largest app developer ecosystem in the world in two years, so many of the metaverse applications will be built here.
In an interaction with TOI, Mohan said Meta is not building the metaverse, but is rather focussing on building toolkits for other companies and developers to build the metaverse. “This is an important point to highlight. We are helping to build what will become the metaverse, which is a combination of these connected immersive spaces that will be built by millions of other developers and creators,” he said. Meta’s ambitious metaverse plans were on full display last year when founder Mark Zuckerberg made the surprise announcement to change the company name from Facebook to Meta. The move also catapulted the concept of the metaverse into global public consciousness.
One of the crucial tools for the metaverse is the headset, which Meta is hard at work on. Its Oculus Quest is already a market leader in headsets. Last week, Zuckerberg released a video showcasing newer prototypes of the VR and AR headsets that the company has been working on over the last few years and said that they are spending at least $10 billion this year on R&D on VR/AR tech.
Many today believe that the metaverse will be the next version of the internet. “Fundamentally, it means the transition from the 2D world to the 3D world, a transition from anything that we looked at on a mobile screen, to one where you will be in it,” Mohan said. What fascinates him the most, he said, is that interactions in the metaverse can cause one to form real memories of being in a shared physical space with other people.
There are plenty of challenges still to overcome to build a metaverse that gives the feel of a physical world. More than anything else, hesaid, Meta is trying to solve the vexing problem of creating a sense of physical presence between people when they’re not in the same room. At the moment Meta’s Horizon Workrooms project, which uses the VR headset called Quest 2, can replicate certain real-life behaviours. For example, if a person on your right is speaking, the sound will come from the right. It can also capture hand movements and gestures to a certain extent.
But all of that is just the beginning. Right now, Mohan said, a lot of work is being done by Meta to capture facial expressions accurately. “A lot of the feedback that we get from people in the physical world is based on how others are responding to us. And that’s the one thing that the avatars of today limit you from doing. But imagine if you can start rendering people’s facial expressions with the help of cameras and sensors. The more you can replicate the real sense of being in a shared physical space, the more natural it will become to adopt the metaverse,” he said.
One of the company’s primary goals, Mohan said, is for a billion people to experience their version of the metaverse in 10 years from now. “If a billion people have to adopt it, it has to be affordable. So even today, the devices that we’re putting out are either at cost or below cost,” he said. Multiple companies are building similar immersive spaces. Would these spaces be interoperable? It’s a question that Mohan said Meta takes very seriously. “I think there is a belief that there are too many closed systems in the mobile world. The assumptions that we have about the physical world should translate to the metaverse as well. If I buy accessories for my avatar, like sunglasses, it shouldn’t disappear when I land in Bengaluru.”

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Cannabis Companies Try the Metaverse as a New Marketing Platform



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,

Estée Lauder

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



Lisa Buffo,

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.

Some see Web 3.0 as the next generation of the internet, a decentralized version of the web based on the blockchain. Here are the key principles behind it, and why skeptics are unconvinced it could scale globally. Illustration: Amber Bragdon

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

Brandon Howard,

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

Alex Todd,

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 company Kandy Girl bought virtual property in Decentraland, where it sells and gives away NFTs.


Boyce Capital LLC

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

Ben Boyce,

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

Alphabet Inc.’s


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.

Roblox Corp.

says in its terms of use that it videogame platform “prohibits users from discussing, depicting, or promoting illegal or highly-regulated activities.” Sandbox says any metadata associated with a piece of the platform’s digital real estate “cannot link or contain any material or content that is…illegal.” In Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform, any content that depicts marijuana is forbidden.

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

Sam Hamilton,

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

Ben Nolan,

founder of the company.

Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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