January 17, 2023

Metaverse Highlights: Week of January 17, 2023

This week, we highlight trends that point to web3 and metaverse maturation. Some are positive developments, others negative ones. But all come from less tolerance for unserious projects and a desire to build for the long run. 

First, Apple is getting closer to unveiling its VR/AR device – the quality of the device, if successful, could prove critical for mass adoption. Second, the crypto-art market is partnering with curators and galleries to organize the chaos of scattered creations; some might view this as a betrayal of web3’s decentralized ethos, but it could also allow digital art to get the best of both worlds. Third, Amazon announced a partnership with the blockchain Avalanche, and BMW announced a new blockchain-powered loyalty program. 

These announcements reinforce the impression that all major companies are bringing blockchain capabilities to their core infrastructure. Together, this news captures the new mindset of the ecosystem: large incumbents advancing cautiously, drawing on the creativity of smaller players for incremental improvements.


  • Apple has cast a shadow over the virtual and augmented reality worlds for the past two years without releasing a product. Still in the coming months, that anticipated threat is expected to become real, which could impact Meta’s plans for dominance of the metaverse. According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple is expected to finally unveil its mixed-reality headset this spring, with retail availability beginning in the fall.

  • Apple has spent the last seven years developing the device, which has let Meta take a leadership position in the VR space—with Sony, HTC, and others also making strides. Apple, though, has a history of waiting for a product field to develop somewhat before stepping in, and many observers say they expect it to quickly rival Meta’s market share.

  • Bloomberg reports that Apple’s headset will be called Reality Pro, and it will be the chief focus for the company this year, with only minimal updates coming for other products like the iPad, Watch, and TV.

  • German car manufacturer BMW plans to integrate blockchain technology into its daily operations and create a blockchain loyalty program for its customers in Thailand. The popular carmaker has onboarded blockchain infrastructure firm Coinweb as its decentralized architecture provider and BNB Chain for settling transactions.

  • The integration of blockchain technology into BMW’s workflow will take place in two phases. First, the decentralized tech will be integrated into BMW’s daily operations to automate time-consuming manual processes and streamline the company’s automobile financing services.

  • The project's second phasewould see Coinweb develop a customized web3 application for BMW’s customer loyalty program.The program will use a blockchain-based rewards scheme to incentivize BMW Group customers.

  • In the past two-and-a-half years, we’ve witnessed a surge in the popularity and prevalence of new digital experiences in the nascent metaverse. There, consumers are transported to a virtual world that mimics real-life experiences using state-of-the-art virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and more.
  • Beyond the hype and across industries, there is real opportunity and staying power for metaverse capabilities. In fact, Gartner recently named the metaverse one of the top five emerging trends and technologies. The 3D and immersive nature of technology form the basis of the metaverse and unlock new ways of working, communicating, learning, playing and living. 

  • As network technology continues to expand, its speed and power will allow huge amounts of data to zip between cloud servers and devices, creating experiences like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

  • Hot on the heels from its $15 million fundraise just a few months ago, Brelyon showed off its vision for what immersive visuals could look like. At CES in Las Vegas, we tried out the 8K fully immersive OLED display, which gives a VR headset-like experience without having to strap anything to your face.
  • “Brelyon Fusion allows the blending of light to scale field of view in a new way that achieves multiples of resolution,” explained Barmak Heshmat, CEO and founder of Brelyon, in an interview with TechCrunch. 

  • “This kind of new light-field expansion innovation really allows us to think of light as pieces of LEGO blocks that can computationally be built to create a more immersive screen.”

  • According to new research, Saudi Arabia‘s economy might benefit from the metaverse for $7.6 billion annually by 2030 as the country increasingly diversifies its economy to achieve the objectives specified in its Vision 2030.
  • Apart from this, a survey published by Strategy & Middle East, a member of the PwC network, the UAE’s 3D-rendered internet sector might bring in about $3.3 billion by the end of this decade, in addition to the Kingdom.

  • Furthermore, by 2030, it is anticipated that Qatar and Kuwait will benefit from developing technology to the tune of $1.6 billion and $1 billion, respectively.

  • One of the first banks to dive into crypto is exiting the business. According to a statement on Monday, Metropolitan Commercial Bank's holding company says it will wind down its crypto-related offerings this year. 

  • The New York-based bank, which manages about $6.4 billion in assets, pointed to "recent developments" in the industry and a changing regulatory environment as a part of their decision to leave the nascent space.

  • "Today's announcement of our exit from the crypto-currency related asset vertical represents the culmination of a process that began in 2017 when we decided to pivot away from crypto and not grow the business," Mark DeFazio, president and CEO of Metropolitan Commercial Bank, said.


  • Many people find NFT platforms with endless squares of images overwhelming. Imagine instead that NFTs were organized into a group with an overarching theme or practice. Imagine a text that explains the idea for the selection of works. In mainstream contemporary art, we call that an exhibition, and curators do that work. Recently, crypto art has been adopting something similar. 

  • Today, the NFT platform Foundation is launching a tool called Worlds that enables anyone to organize a selection of works, in a curatorial-like gesture. This represents a major shift for crypto art, an ecosystem that has resisted intermediaries like curators and largely advocated for artists to present work directly to buyers.

  • It suggests a move towards legitimizing works associated with NFTs as art rather than speculative assets, and raises awareness and value of curatorial work within the blockchain landscape.

  • Avalanche developer Ava Labs will be offering crypto infrastructure through Amazon Web Services (AWS) with the aim of facilitating “enterprise, institutional, and government adoption of blockchain,” Ava Labs announced Wednesday.

  • Avalanche is a blockchain optimized to support NFTs, Web3 games, and a unique technology it calls “Subnets,” which act like custom blockchains built on Avalanche but can have custom rulesets and even use their own token instead of Avalanche’s native AVAX for paying network gas fees.

  • As a part of its deal with Amazon, Ava Labs will offer “Subnet deployment” as a service through the AWS Marketplace, meaning any company or organization could enlist Ava Labs to launch a custom Subnet for them on the AWS platform.

  • Web3 domain provider Unstoppable Domains is teaming up with digital avatar creation platform Ready Player Me to make digital identities interoperable in the metaverse.
  • Ready Player Me allows users to create and transport avatars across various metaverse platforms, including Spatial and Somnium Space. In its partnership with Unstoppable, users can create avatars using Ready Player Me and use them as their profile pictures.

  • The streamlined process allows users to connect to an existing Ready Player Me account or upload a photo of themselves to auto-generate an avatar with their likeness.

  • Users who connect their avatar to their Unstoppable identity will be able to access over 6,000 of Ready Player Me’s applications, games and metaverses, in addition to Unstoppable’s 650 partner apps.

  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates doesn’t seem convinced of the importance of Web3 and the Metaverse, saying that the technology is not “revolutionary.” 

  • Answering a question from a Reddit user regarding what current tech has the potential the internet did in 2000, the business magnate said: “AI is the big one. I don't think web3 was that big or that metaverse stuff alone was revolutionary but AI is quite revolutionary.”

  • At the end of 2021, Gates predicted that most virtual meetings would move from 2D platforms like Zoom and Teams to the metaverse within two or three years. He added that he had been impressed by how VR technology improves the experience of remote meetings. But the billionaire has also been clear in his dislike of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, saying they are “100% based on greater fool theory.”

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