August 8, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of August 8, 2022

This week, we highlight a series of pieces exploring long-term trends in the Metaverse. How will the Metaverse revolutionize healthcare? What role will architecture play in the Metaverse? What will the weather be like in the Metaverse? How will colleges move to the Metaverse? What do sports leagues stand to gain from the Metaverse? These pieces address each of these questions in turn, while providing an overview of key news items – including an attack on the Solana network and a privacy-focused lawsuit against Meta.

The Metaverse is revolutionizing healthcare.

  • The Metaverse involves the convergence of telepresence, digital twinning, and blockchain major technological trends, technologies that all have the potential to impact healthcare.
  • Digital twinning will come about through our increasing ability to map and understand individual genetics
  • The blockchain will use distributed and encrypted databases to store health data securely. 
  • As surgical procedures were already using robotics, now complicated surgeries are all set to use AR.
  • Telemedicine consultations, particularly through VR, mean patients are no longer limited to being treated by particular clinicians due to their physical location. 
  • VR is also used by doctors and experts to train fellow doctors and medical staff.
  • Together, these innovations could create entirely new channels for delivering care that have the potential to lower costs and vastly improve patient outcomes.  

What's next for the NHL and the Metaverse?

  • The Los Angeles Kings recently partnered with Tetavi, an Israeli-based company, to create two videos that showed the potential for immersive technology in the Metaverse.
  • Tetavi took its portable production studio and set it up on the Kings' practice rink in El Segundo on a day in April. Los Angeles players skated around in full gear as eight cameras filmed their motions. The same process was used to film Bailey, the Kings' lion mascot, banging a drum and dancing around.
  • In the past, this type of venture would have had players heading to a remote studio for an all-day shoot. The Kings marveled at how the Tetavi process took four hours from setup to filming at their practice rink. Especially because the players were in the midst of an intense playoff race.
  • "When they brought it to us, we thought it was an opportunity to create a different view of game entertainment and a different communication with the fans," Kings president Luc Robitaille said.

Exploring the role of architecture in the Metaverse.

  • In March 2021, artist Krista Kim sold the Mars House. It was the world’s first virtual house to be sold as an NFT, and it sold for more than $500,000. Over a year has passed since those first forays, and a lot of major artists, architects, and design firms have planted their flag since then.
  • The metaverse is still largely thought of as the Wild West and offers a chance to re-envision the built environment completely and collectively. And there are likely to be multiple interoperable platforms to explore.  With no laws, gravity, permits, construction workers, or material shortages to worry about, architects are trying different things. 
  • Luca Arrigo, who’s designing the tallest tower in Decentraland, thinks “the profession will need to re-skill to learn coding, understand how metaverse platforms work, and break free of the limitations of real life.”

Solana wallets ‘drained’ in blow to crypto network.

  • Thousands of crypto accounts linked to the Solana blockchain have been “drained” in a blow to one of the biggest networks in the digital asset market. 
  • Solana and several other platforms linked to the blockchain were on Wednesday investigating an apparent hack that affected at least 7,767 digital wallets, the computer programs that store traders’ crypto tokens.
  • The Solana Foundation, a non-profit focused on the growth and security of the Solana network, told the Financial Times that it “does not appear” that the exploitation had affected its core infrastructure, but rather was caused by a bug “in software used by several wallets popular among Solana users”. 
  • The apparent hack marks a fresh setback for Solana, which has been touted as one of the potential long-term winners of the crypto industry because it was built to handle thousands of trades a second but has faced a series of outages in recent months.  

More than any other sports league, the NBA has gone all in on Web3.

  • Many current and former NBA players are pursuing a Web3 venture off the court. LeBron James,Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Josh Hart, John Wall, and Baron Davis are just some of the major basketball names behind recent NFT collaborations. 
  • The NBA as a league as well as individual franchises are also following suit, offering their own NFT collectables that typically come with exclusive perks and rewards.
  • Unlike other merchandise products, the digital assets provide a unique opportunity for leagues to tap into a secondary market, earning fees for trades and sales well after the initial purchase of its licensed products.
  • “As a digital-forward organization, the NBA had a real openness to explore with us, which was crucial to the strong foundation we’ve built for Top Shot and the community,” says Dapper Labs’s senior vice president of sports partnerships, Jennifer van Dijk. “What NFTs enable is the next level of that player-fan relationship.”

What will the weather be like in the Metaverse?

  • NVIDIA is developing Omniverse, which Kerris describes as an operating system for building and connecting virtual worlds. Inside these spaces, true-to-reality simulations can be run, something, for example, that could be extremely important to architects looking to build structures to withstand extreme weather, especially in a world with increasingly intense storms fueled by climate change.
  • Richard Kerris, the vice president of the Omniverse development platform for NVIDIA, sees the metaverse as the next evolution of the internet.
  • "If an architect is designing something, they’ll want to know what it is going to be like in the wintertime or what it's going to be like in high winds, will it sustain something as extreme as a tornado for example," Kerris said. 
  • Kerris also told AccuWeather that some companies are already looking at ways to allow people to take virtual tours of travel destinations, and the weather will be an important factor.

Meta is being sued for giving US hospitals a data-tracking tool that allegedly ended up disclosing patient information to Facebook.

  • A new lawsuit alleges that Meta has access to the private medical data of millions of people without permission and has used it to serve targeted medicine and treatment ads on Facebook.
  • The suit, which was filed last week in the Northern District of California, is the second such lawsuit that accuses US hospitals of providing Meta with sensitive patient information and violating HIPAA. The complaint says that these hospitals used Meta's Pixel tool, which then accessed patients' password-protected portals and shared sensitive health information that Meta then sold to Facebook advertisers.
  • Meta Pixel is a tool that allows businesses to measure and build audiences for ad campaigns.
  • In June, an investigation by nonprofit newsroom The Markup found that 33 of the top 100 hospitals in America use the Meta Pixel.

College in the Metaverse is here. Is higher ed ready?

  • This fall, students at 10 universities, including Morehouse College and New Mexico State University, will attend metaversities—a portmanteau of “metaverse” and “universities.” A metaversity is an immersive virtual reality platform where remote faculty and students don VR headsets and meet synchronously as they would on a physical campus.
  • In metaverse “classrooms,” students may learn history while “traveling” on the Underground Railroad “armed” with Harriet Tubman’s pistol. Or they may learn about literature while “sitting” on the judge’s bench in the courtroom that was at the center of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Metaversity proponents say that VR boosts student engagement, achievement and satisfaction. But some scholars are concerned that the private companies that license the technology may prioritize their bottom lines over academic freedom, exploit students’ data or reproduce possibly biased narratives in an immersive format that becomes students’ go-to representation of events.

Pearson plans to sell its textbooks as NFTs.

  • Textbook publisher Pearson plans to profit from second-hand sales by turning its titles into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), its chief executive has said.
  • Educational books are often sold more than once, since students sell study resources they no longer require. Publishers have not previously been able to make any money from secondhand sales, but the rise of digital textbooks has created an opportunity for companies to benefit.
  • After the release of Pearson’s interim results, CEO Andy Bird explained his plan to sell digital textbooks as NFTs, allowing the publisher to track the ownership of a book even when it changes hands, Bloomberg reported. “In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” he said, explaining that “technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life”.

Iran places its first crypto-funded import order, worth $10 million.

  • Iran registered its first import order to be paid in crypto since the government, strapped for foreign currencies due to sanctions, amended digital assets legislation to allow locally mined cryptocurrencies to be used for purchases.
  • The order is valued at $10 million, the Tasnim news agency reported Tuesday.
  • The report cited a tweet from Alireza Peyman-Pak, an official at the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, which said (in Farsi) that by the end of September, Iran's "use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries."
  • In 2019, the government legalized crypto mining in the country. It still strictly regulates the sector and cracked down on local miners over energy use last year.

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