Note: The following posting was submitted by Graeme Harvey, Managing Director, HuzuTech
Graeme Harvey is MD of HuzuTech, a social media software company. He’s been involved with HuzuTech since 2009, and before that he started up a successful digital publishing division within Harpercollins publishers, concentrating on online, desktop and mobile application development. There, he developed a digital business that underpinned the Collins Language division – the first of its kind within Harpercollins UK (it included the first e-commerce, e-book and mobile app presence).
HuzuTech is a British social and virtual technology company. We’ve just launched our white label virtual world platform, HuzuVirtual, which lets brands, publishers and film or TV production houses create their own branded virtual worlds and online environments – at a fraction of the cost of building one from scratch.
We also white label our own social networking platform, HuzuSocial, which lets brands offer secure social networking facilities (including within a virtual world, through full integration with HuzuVirtual) and the ability to link to Facebook.
We announced the launch of HuzuVirtual at AdTech New York recently, and the response was fantastic. We know that virtual worlds are a huge growth area for publishers and media companies, but what was really interesting was the appetite for brands to create their own communities.
As online communities become integral to brands’ marketing campaigns, there is a reluctance to hand over control of customer data and relationships to a third party like Facebook, and requirements for more sophisticated or bespoke technology to manage those relationships effectively.
As a result, our technology is completely customisable, with functionality that includes things like the creation of different virtual environments, rooms or ‘levels’ to the world; avatar creation; virtual (or real) goods shop; fully moderated chat functionality; custom-branded avatars; and special events such as online meetings, concerts, and VIP areas. It’s cloud-based, because it is designed to be able to cope with rapid growth, when the community grows exponentially.
There’s also the thorny issue of monetisation. More and more, brands are seeking to monetise their online environments. Sales of branded goods are expected to grow by more than 100 per cent over the next three years. We’ve included virtual shopping features in HuzuVirtual, and the feedback we’ve had so far has been that brands definitely want to control an environment where customers are paying for their goods.
Demonstrating the Technology
We’ve developed a site to show how the technology works, including some really great features like routing technology (which means an avatar will always follow a path – rather than walking ‘through’ obstacles), and ‘motion’ sensors (see how the car alarms going off when the avatar walks past them) here: http://paperworld.huzutech.com/.
Note: this isn’t a virtual world in itself, but shows the kind of technology we can use. We’re constantly tinkering with it to make it better, and we’re always interested to know what other people think of it.
The first full virtual world built on our platform will be out in around June 2011, and is for Scholastic’s Horrible Histories™ – it’s a great one to be working on and shows how the publishing industry is one of the first to adopt these new technologies to market books.
If you’re interested to know more, visit our website: www.huzutech.com.