April 25, 2023

Metaverse Highlights: Week of April 25, 2023

We begin with exciting projects at the intersection of the metaverse and AI this week. Dozens of start-ups combining these two technologies are getting funding, including MetaGravity, a metaverse infrastructure developer capable of supporting more than one million+ concurrent users, and Social Future, which allows users to generate ownable 3D virtual worlds where avatars convey real-time expressions and voices.

In addition to these projects, the camera giant Canon is launching an Ethereum NFT marketplace dedicated to photography, Nike is releasing its first NFT sneaker collection, and Snap Inc is updating its artificial intelligence chatbot to respond to users' messages with fully AI-generated images.

These developments point to a broader trend: Where some predicted a “metaverse winter” whereby the hype around AI would relegate the metaverse to irrelevance, the opposite is happening. AI makes virtual worlds seem closer to reach and has given new life to metaverse projects – in early-stage start-ups and established companies. 

The bottom line: The reality is that web3 promises an entirely decentralized network that allows pure peer-to-peer communication and transactions. Content creators can also drive their community-based economy with a user-centric token system. By eliminating all intermediaries, the Internet of the Future gives even more power to content creators. It transforms fans from passive spectators into active content owners. 

The bottom line: Canon USA, the American division of the global camera and imaging giant, announced today that it would launch an Ethereum NFT marketplace dedicated to photography later this year, dipping further into the web3 world after an NFT drop in 2022. Cadabra, a curated marketplace for tokenized photographs, is set to roll out later in 2023 following an initial preview at the NFT NYC conference.

The bottom line: Muhammad Neil El Himam, deputy chairman for digital economy and creative products in Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, told Cointelegraph that he recently formed a partnership with Quantum Temple — a technology company using NFTs for preservation — to help maintain the country’s cultural heritage. 

The bottom line: This article is a guide to the companies building the generative artificial intelligence technology that will lead to virtual worlds (games, simulations, metaverse applications). Existing market maps describing the landscape for generative AI lack a convincing organization, instead seeming to be random boxes based on functionality. This map is helpful in charting who is moving these specific experiences forward.

The bottom line: XRSPACE has announced a $25 million funding round led by Foxconn Technology Group. Taiwan’s National Development Fund invested $10 Million. According to the announcement, the funds will be used to add new features and improve existing ones, including live facial and motion tracking of user-driven avatars, 5G-powered real-time interaction, 3D live streaming, and AI-powered social engagement.

The bottom line: Mission trips are going to the final frontier. River City Church, based in Vancouver, Washington, has announced this August they will embark on the first-ever “mission trip to the metaverse.” “In this age of technological innovation and digital connections, it’s time for the Church to step into a new frontier,” the church shared on its website.

The bottom line: Global sportswear brand Nike will soon release its first non-fungible token (NFT) sneaker collection on its recently launched .Swoosh platform. The virtual sneaker, called Our Force 1 (OF1), is a play on the brand's iconic Air Force 1 design. Beginning on April 18, Nike will begin airdropping "posters" to select .Swoosh users, granting them early access to the sale on May 8. 

The bottom line: MetaGravity, a London, UK-based virtual world and metaverse infrastructure developer, raised $9.5M in Seed funding. Co-founded by CEO Rashid Mansoor and CBO Tobin Ireland, MetaGravity is building the distributed compute infrastructure for metaverse gaming and virtual world simulations. The platform will offer unlimited scale and be capable of supporting more than 1 million+ concurrent users (CCUs) plus associated AI and interactive objects.

The bottom line: Snap Inc on Wednesday said its artificial intelligence chatbot will now be able to respond to users' messages with a fully AI-generated image, as the owner of photo messaging app Snapchat deepens its work in AI technology. The company aims to use the technology to speed up its development of augmented reality (AR) features, or computerized images overlayed on top of photos and videos of the real world.

The bottom line: Social Future, an AI-driven social metaverse company, has recently announced that it has successfully raised USD $6 million in funding. Social Future’s aim is to create the future of social experience with phygital interaction, immersive content, and self-sovereign communities. Social Future’s product, MAY (“Meet Another You”), enables immersive social experiences via personalized avatars. Built with blockchain and AI, MAY allows users to generate ownable 3D virtual worlds where avatars convey real-time expressions and voices.

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