Holoride, the Audi-backed startup that's creating an in-vehicle virtual reality entertainment system designed for passengers, has begun publicly selling its Ride cryptocurrency token.
The launch of the crypto is the latest move by Holoride to build up its extended reality (XR) ecosystem of games and experiences created by a community of developers. Vehicle passengers keen to experience virtual worlds or play games — all of which are in tune with the movement the car they're riding in — will have to use the Ride utility token to make purchases.
Holoride is aiming to offer its XR system in private vehicles next year, although details of which brands and when it might launch are scant. The company had previously said it would launch in summer 2022, but has since pulled back on specific timing for next year.
"In the last few years, we have created a proprietary tech stack that connects car manufactures and content creators with passengers," Nils Wollny, CEO and co-founder of Holoride, told TechCrunch. "Enhancing our platform with blockchain technology and launching our own Ride token is the logical next step in order to supercharge our ecosystem and allow for a fair and transparent participation."
Back in May, Holoride announced it would be integrating Elrond's blockchain into its tech stack and using NFTs to incentivize developers to create more content on the platform while also attracting passengers who want to personalize their in-car experience. Both the NFTs and Ride are built on Elrond, and both can be used for transactions in Holoride's ecosystem. The NFT is unique and cannot be replicated, whereas the Ride cyrptocurrency is interchangeable, as with any type of currency.
"We will enable users and content creators to mint unique NFTs based on their experiences in exchange for RIDE tokens," said Wollny. "The resulting NFTs can then be bought and sold using Ride."
Incorporating blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrency into the Holoride platform isn't just a way to get attention with nebulous buzz words. Holoride is taking a bet on its ability to extend reality from the car seat to the metaverse, where the digital and virtual worlds intertwine with physical and augmented reality.
That bet could pay off, even though Ride can only be used to buy games and entertainment within Holoride. Once Ride is officially listed on December 7, it will be initially exchangeable with Elrond's cryptocurrency, EGLD, which can itself be swapped with others like USDC or Fiat, and might fuel its growth.
A slew of big names have begun announcing metaverse projects, like Facebook which went so far as to rename its parent company Meta, Niantic (the makers of Pokémon Go), Amazon, Roblox, Unity Software and Microsoft. Meanwhile, as the building blocks of the metaverse begin to reach some semblance of maturity, so does the self-driving ride-hailing industry, with companies like Waymo, Cruise, Motional/Lyft and WeRide on the path to commercialization.
Wollny has told TechCrunch that he wants Holoride to be the "transportation company for the metaverse." Even though Holoride will initially target private vehicles, the end game is to integrate into self-driving vehicles, giving passengers with plenty of down time a way to stay entertained.
Earlier this month, Holoride announced a partnership with NEVS, a Swedish electric car manufacturer, to integrate its tech into the automaker's PONS mobility system, a self-driving shared mobility concept featuring Sango, a purpose-built AV. Holoride's tech would continue to be bolstered by software development company Terranet's VoxelFlow technology, which relies on a combination of vehicle sensors to calculate the distance, direction and speed of an object. This informs Holoride's platform in real time so that the user experience within the game is matched by the actual movements of the vehicle.
Ride is being sold on Elrond's Maiar Launchpad (Crypto launchpads provide a way to raise capital for new projects, give investors time to get early and discounted access to token sales and help build a community around a project). Holoride will initially circulate 130 million tokens, and there is a max supply of 1 billion tokens. 200 million tokens have already been sold at $0.02 via a private sale, which has since concluded, and another 50 million had been sold publicly before the launch of the crypto. In total, this would have brought the company $6 million.
The Holoride team mainly plans to use the proceeds of the Ride tokens for content creation, but will also allocate funds towards development, marketing and legal and security audits. As far as Ride token allocation goes, 25% will be filtered throughout the XR ecosystem Holoride is creating, which includes ecosystem supporters, key partnerships and growth opportunities.
"In particular, developers, content creators, automotive manufacturers, mobility providers, operational supporters or advisors and ambassadors," said Wollny.
Another 20% of the total tokens will be allocated to the "community," which Wollny says is reserved for early contributors from the crypto community, including beta users, technical audits and code reviews. Only 5% goes towards "public sale," which means Holoride fans, supporters and believers, and the rest goes to selected financial and strategic investors, equity investors, Holoride's treasury and the Holoride team.
Aside from purchasing experiences and other virtual items associated with them, Wollny said token holders will initially be able to use them towards ecosystem governance, as well as community benefits like subscriptions, upgrades and special events. The tokens will also be used to incentivize users into a "ride to play to earn" cycle where they can earn extra benefits for taking a sustainable ride in an electric car or sharing specific data, for example. In addition, content creators and car manufacturers may receive Ride as partner royalties, says Wollny.
Holoride is only a year or so away from launch, but it'll need some serious scale to get to the point where such an involved ecosystem makes sense. At the very least, it might serve as a microcosm for how the metaverse will rely on the underlying principles of blockchain technology, like transparency, security, interoperability and participation. Wollny is optimistic that Holoride has the potential to be at the heart of the movement for how the metaverse will be built and how its users will manage their identity or create and capture value.
"Now that everyone is all over the metaverse, cryptocurrencies and NFTs, the puzzle pieces might fit a little better," said Wollny. "However, many things are still unsolved and the best it yet to come."
This article has been updated to reflect new information from Holoride on when its crypto will be exchangeable with other currencies.