This Halloween, kids weren’t just out to collect candy: Across the U.S., smart phone users also used a new iPhone app called Metaverse to take part in a Pokemon Go-like augmented reality scavenger hunt. Using the app, players could unlock virtual clues at real-world locations, which eventually led to real stashes of hidden money, to the tune of $10,000.
The Halloween scavenger hunt was being produced by San Diego-based augmented reality startup GoMeta, which officially went out of stealth mode Monday night. GoMeta is being led by serial entrepreneur Dmitry Shapiro, who until recently worked on Google’s social media projects.
Variety was first to report on Shapiro’s departure from Google in September.
The startup is being backed by some high-profile angel investors including former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, former Myspace CEO Mike Jones and others, who have invested a total of $2 million in the company.
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With that money, GoMeta now wants to take augmented reality to the next step: The company released a new version of its app Monday that allows anyone to take part in existing scavenger hunts or other augmented reality experiences, as well as create simple experiences themselves. It also launched developer tools that enable anyone to build more complex augmented reality experiences, complete with the ability to leave virtual objects at real spaces, and even develop scripts to have those objects interact with players.
“We think the use cases for Metaverse are countless, from entertainment to education, from commerce to enterprise, from casual amateurs to professional studios,” said Shapiro in a blog post Monday. “We can’t wait to see what you do with it.”
GoMeta competes in many ways with Niantic Labs, the company behind Pokemon Go. Niantic, which was originally incubated at Google, has also been working on ways for companies to build their own experiences. “Our ultimate goal is to build a platform,” Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke told Variety last year.