Tempe virtual reality company wins $400K grant from Meta, earns international honor – The Business Journals

A Tempe software development startup that has developed a virtual reality education and life-improvement app has received a $400,000 Immersive Learning Fund grant from social media company Meta.
The app, called Retreat, offers instruction “through audio, visual and kinesthetic inputs” on life improvement, debuted on Dec. 1 on the MetaQuest store. It is the first app developed by virtual reality development company GeniusX, which was founded in 2020 in Tempe.
Courses on the platform cover subjects such as art and creativity, career and entrepreneurship, financial well being, holistic wellness, mindset and relationships. Users find and take the courses in an immersive virtual world, the company said.
GeniusX co-founder and CEO Nick Janicki said VR has huge potential to transform education.
“Research shows that students in VR are four times more focused than their peers in a traditional classroom environment,” Janicki said in a statement. “The potential for immersive technology to transform education is huge, and we are excited to be on the forefront.”
Retreat also earned its creators finalist status in the Rising VR Company of the Year category of the International VR Awards. The category is devoted to small businesses with proven business models, and finalists were chosen by the Academy of International Extended Reality steering board. The finalists were honored in Rotterdam, Netherlands, during the Immersive Tech Week event that concluded on Dec. 2.
GeniusX co-founder Lyle Maxson, who represented the company during the event, said the attention the Retreat app is getting gives his company a chance to inspire others in a new field.
“Outside of the internal goals within our company, we aim to inspire developers and creators to build meaningful content while immersive tech is in its infancy. Being ranked among finalists highlights our example of what’s possible in the hopes that others will step in to build content that further uplifts humanity,” Maxson said in a statement.
Meta is the parent company of Facebook. It changed its name in 2021 to reflect a shift in the company’s focus to more immersive technologies and the virtual-reality world it calls the Metaverse. The company says its grants are meant to help develop the next generation of Metaverse creators and drive the evolution of social technology.
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