Genies, the avatar technology company backed by Bob Iger, announced on Thursday the launch of its Developer Fund to reward developers who create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences through Genies’ latest builds. The total size of the fund is 1 million USD.
Genies will reward certain creators based on engagement, such as how many users participate in the avatar experience, how many users engage, and how many users interact with the digital product in the experience.
The Center began developing its products in May, giving developers the option to access all of Genies’ technology, allowing them to publish mini-apps, customize avatars to suit their aesthetics, and create everything from mini-games to the virtual world, according to the company’s “social” experience. These mini-apps will be released in Genies’ next super app, which should launch this fall.
The network includes Genies’ Silver Studio, a DIY digital fashion app (still in beta) where users can dress up and customize their own avatar.
Dev devices also include XR (augmented reality) compatibility; this means avatar experiences can be played well on mobile AR, AR glasses and VR headsets. But initially, these experiences will be available on mobile devices.
“We think this is really important, especially in the context of Apple Vision Pro,” Genies CEO Akash Nigam told TechCrunch in an interview. “In 2017, when we were building this, we knew that at one point we were going to live in an augmented world. And when that did happen, any type of social or interactive experience that you wanted to do with your friends, whether it was a mini-game or some type of social network, or use case, you’re going to need an avatar as a prerequisite… The XR compatibility tech makes it so that any of these avatars or creations can spawn effectively and performantly in an AR world.”
New affiliate accounts and product launches are app dependent only. The first developers to receive grants are mostly college students and other startups selected for Genies’ developer incubator, which offers guidance and advice on how to bring their personal AR experiences to life.
The company will announce its first product this summer. Developers can apply through the Genies website.
“We want to be able to work hands-on with each of the developers to be able to cultivate their experiences through the dev kit,” Nigam told us. “We really want to make sure that people are leveraging these avatars in a way that’s going to be additive to the entire ecosystem…We want to make sure that we can incentivize them to build experiences the right way.”
Nigam said Genies is selective about the developers they accept. The developers are required to have a few years of coding experience to fully understand the technology. “We have built it in a way that, over time, you can have almost little to no technical expertise to be able to create an avatar experience,” he added.
At first, the company plans to accept hundreds of developers to join its lab pool and receive monthly rewards. Genies will accept thousands of developers by early 2024.
“It’s really based on how many developers we can best support in the very beginning,” Nigam said.
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