February 7, 2023

Metaverse Highlights: Week of February 7, 2023

This week, in sports, the NFL reveals its first-ever virtual Super Bowl concert in Roblox. In hardware, Samsung jumps into the headset race, partnering with Qualcomm (the fabless chip maker) and Google to create alternatives to current offerings. As for cities, CNN reports that digital twins are revolutionizing urban planning, and Dubai announces the creation of its metaverse platform. 

Beyond these industry-specific developments, we also highlight analytic pieces on the cyber risks associated with the metaverse and the impact of AI on the virtual reality world. These longer-term concerns will prove crucial for all players innovating in the space and are already more important than anticipated.


  • With space in our cities at a premium and a majority of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas within the next few decades, there’s less room for trial-and-error when it comes to urban planning – with decisions made today having critical impacts on the future.
  • But what if there was a way to test and analyze different scenarios first before ever breaking ground? That’s the thinking behind “digital twins” that are being made of cities all over the world, including Shanghai, New York, Singapore, and Helsinki.

  • Using real-time data and artificial intelligence, digital twins become virtual, living mirrors of their physical counterparts – providing opportunities to simulate everything from infrastructure and construction to traffic patterns and energy consumption.

  • The NFL recently announced plans for the first-ever virtual Super Bowl concert. Featuring the vocal stylings and motion-captured movements of hip-hop artist Saweetie, the concert will launch during Super Bowl weekend on Roblox, the massively popular multiplayer online game.

  • On Friday, February 10, the free concert will open to Roblox users in Rhythm City—a music-themed social roleplay experience built on Roblox by Warner Music Group—home to Saweetie’s label, Warner Records. The concert will then replay 31 times, every hour on the hour, until Super Bowl Sunday.

  • “I’m really excited to bring this iconic moment to the metaverse and share my music with a whole new audience in such a unique way,” Saweetie said in a statement shared with Decrypt.

  • Samsung, the Korean mobile company, revealed it will be joining the market of metaverse and VR (virtual reality) headsets soon. The company announced that it is already working on what it calls “extended reality” hardware, hinting at the production of a VR headset.

  • TM Roh, Head of Samsung mobile experiences business, confirmed that such a device is in the works, but did not offer a launch window for the hardware. However, he reported the involvement of Qualcomm, the fabless chip maker, and Google, as partners. 

  • Ro explained that Samsung had delayed its participation in the market, stating that the market was still not ready and that other similar devices launched by competitors did not have the expected success.

  • First, what our kids are seeing and using: This new world is naturally very enticing for young people, who are the most likely to be the first to start exploring it. What are the implications for the education of future generations?

  • Second, identity theft: Avatars in the metaverse are likely to become users’ digital identities, but that means that users will inevitably be susceptible to identity theft. What happens when your avatar gets hacked?

  • Third, digital currency scams: There’s always the risk of financial loss through the theft of digital currencies. The existence of blockchain technology ought to have made crypto transaction security exceptionally well protected. Yet we’ve seen several high-profile crypto hacks in the past couple of years.

  • When it comes to digital collectibles, most enthusiasts think of Ethereum, Solana, or Polygon. But digital collectibles using the Bitcoin blockchain have existed since 2014, and several projects have made it their continuing mission to bring NFTs to the first and biggest cryptocurrency.
  • One of these projects is Ordinals, and some Bitcoin maximalists are calling it an affront to Bitcoin principles.

  • The Ordinals protocol enables users to explore, transfer, and receive individual satoshis, which may include unique inscribed data such as videos and images. The process of adding assets to individual satoshis makes it possible to put content in a Bitcoin transaction and assign it to a satoshi. Once completed, Rodarmor says, the inscriptions are stored in a Bitcoin transaction’s signature.

  • One of the main issues with metaverse platforms is privacy. People may disclose more sensitive data and personal information in the metaverse, increasing the risk of hacking and data breaches. 
  • Furthermore, there may be less supervision and regulation over how businesses gather and use this data, which might result in the misuse of personal data.

  • Being a virtual environment, the metaverse is open to various security risks, including hacking, intellectual property theft and misuse of user data that can lead to the loss of personal data, financial harm and damage to the reputation and stability of virtual communities. 

  • Governments and other institutions can find it difficult to keep up with technology and lack the resources or tools necessary to govern it successfully. This absence of oversight may result in problems like unlawful activity and hazardous content.

  • In its earnings report after the bell on Wednesday, Meta said its Reality Labs division, home to the company's virtual reality technologies and projects, posted a $4.28 billion operating loss in the fourth quarter, bringing its total for 2022 to $13.72 billion.
  • Reality Labs generated $727 million in the fourth quarter, and $2.16 billion in revenue for all of 2022 — a decline from $2.27 billion in 2021 — including sales of Quest headsets. In other words, the division lost more than six times the amount of money it generated in revenue last year, while accounting for less than 2% of total sales at Meta.

  • Sales of VR headsets in the U.S. declined 2% in 2022 from the prior year as of early December, according to data shared with CNBC by research firm NPD Group.

  • According to one metaverse CEO, the introduction of OpenAI's ChatGPT may well speed up the process of getting a realistic, AI-powered digital avatar of your dead loved ones to market, way ahead of schedule.

  • "The AI is progressing extremely fast," Somnium Space CEO Artur Sychov, whose company is currently working to develop a "Live Forever" mode for robot avatars in its "virtual reality world," told Motherboard. "Honestly, it is progressing faster than even we anticipated."

  • Somnium Space's maybe-forthcoming "Live Forever" feature is simple, at least in theory. Hand Sychov's firm a bunch of personal data, and they'll create a digitized "you," which will "live" "forever" in the company's hallowed metaverse halls.

  • Polygon is a sidechain or scaling tool for the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum, while very popular, is slow and expensive. Polygon is a way to help avoid this issue by processing transitions outside of the Ethereum blockchain.
  • While the recent Ethereum Merge is the first step towards increasing the transactions per second (TPS) on the blockchain, most of the upgrades that will facilitate that speed are still in the future. Ethereum is able to process about 10 to 30 transactions per second, with transaction fees hovering around $25, as of January 2023. During periods of high network congestion, the price can spike two or three times higher.

  • That’s where scaling systems such as Polygon come in. Polygon makes things cheaper by processing batches of transactions on its proprietary proof-of-stake blockchain. Polygon claims to be able to process up to 65,000 transactions each second, with fees costing less than a fraction of a cent.

  • The platform is aligned with the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to add $4bn to Dubai’s GDP, support 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030 and attract 1,000 companies specialised in blockchain and metaverse technologies, according to the state news agency WAM.

  • Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, stated that the UAE adopts advanced technologies in its aim to keep pace with global changes, reflecting the directives of its leadership, in transforming the country and Dubai to become a leading hub for utilising the best technology and developing capabilities.

  • Al Olama added that this metaverse platform is the first in a series of initiatives that aim to achieve the objectives of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy.

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