June 27, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of June 27, 2022

This week, we are witnessing important events that will shape the future of the Metaverse. While the NFT community gathered for NFT.NYC, SamBankman-Fried bailed out crypto firms amidst an unprecedented crash. Meta, Microsoft, and 35 other organizations announced the creation of the Metaverse Standards Forum. Ebay acquired an NFT platform, thereby bringing digital art closer to the mainstream. While different and wide-ranging, all these events point in a single direction: despite obstacles, the momentum surrounding the Metaverse is here to stay. 

The 4th Annual NFT Industry Event

Last week, the NFT community gathered in New York City for its largest conference of the year, which received extensive coverage in the press.

  • The event happened in the midst of an unprecedented crypto crash, with digital art trading trending down. Still, attendees had much to be enthusiastic about. 
  • More than 15,000 people gathered in Times Square for the event.
  • Tom Farren reports that the conference featured some of the most prominent Black artists within the NFT space, thereby empowering underrepresented digital creators.
  • “It’s a build market,” said Travis Wright, a co-host of the Bad Crypto podcast and one of the MCs of the event’s main speaker stage on Tuesday in Radio City Music Hall. 
  • The conference rented the legendary theater with help from sponsors like Coinbase, the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.

Bitcoin Billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried Bails Out Embattled Crypto Firms BlockFi and Voyager

  • With no central bank willing to come to the rescue, beleaguered crypto companies are turning to their peers for help.
  • Bankman-Fried is one of the wealthiest people in crypto, with an estimated net worth of $20.5 billion, according to Forbes. His crypto exchange FTX notched a $32 billion valuation at the start of 2022.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried’s companies has signed deals to bail out two firms in as many weeks: BlockFi, a quasi-bank, and Voyager Digital, a digital asset brokerage.
  • FTX, Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, agreed Tuesday to provide BlockFi with a $250 million revolving credit facility. Bankman-Fried said the financing would help BlockFi “navigate the market from a position of strength.”
  • It comes after BlockFi said earlier this month that it would lay off 20% of its staff
  • Zac Prince, BlockFi co-founder and CEO, said the deal with FTX was more than just a round of debt, adding it “also unlocks future collaboration and innovation” between the two firms.

  • KnownOrigin enables artists and collectors to create, buy and resell NFTs. eBay say it’s acquiring the entire company, including IP and the team. 
  • “eBay is the first stop for people across the globe who are searching for that perfect, hard-to-find, or unique addition to their collection and, with this acquisition, we will remain a leading site as our community is increasingly adding digital collectibles,” said eBay CEO Jamie Iannone in a statement. “KnownOrigin has built up an impressive, passionate and loyal group of artists and collectors. We look forward to welcoming these innovators as they join the eBay community.”
  • The acquisition comes a month after eBay launched its first collection of NFTs in partnership with web3 platform OneOf. 
  • Although eBay has a significant presence in online shopping, the company will have its work cut out for it competing with dozens of crypto native NFT marketplaces already out there. However, its acquisition of KnownOrigin indicates that the company is getting serious about NFTs.

Meta and Microsoft are ready to map out metaverse tech. Apple and Google won’t be joining them

Meta, Microsoft, and 35 other tech-adjacent organizations are banding together to build a foundation for the metaverse — even if Apple and Google, two of the biggest tech players, will not be joining them.

  • The coalition of tech companies, retail outfits, and digital nonprofits announced Tuesday the formation of the Metaverse Standards Forum, an open consortium dedicated to developing metaverse interoperability protocols. 
  • Conspicuously missing from the member list for now however is Apple, which analysts expect to become a dominant player in the metaverse race once it introduces a mixed reality headset this year or next.Apple has not yet publicly acknowledged plans for a headset, although it has reportedly given its board a sneak peek of the product, according to Bloomberg.
  • Gaming companies Roblox and Niantic also were not included among the forum's participants, nor were emerging crypto-based metaverse platforms like The Sandbox or Decentraland.
  • Neil Trevett, an executive at chip maker Nvidia who is chairing the Metaverse Standards Forum, said in a statement to Reuters that any company is welcome to join the group, including participants from the crypto world.

Cybersecurity and the Metaverse: Identifying the Weak Spots

In VentureBeat, Charlie Fletcher outlines the Metaverse’s key cybersecurity challenges.

  • The metaverse is designed to function through the use of digital avatars that each user creates for themselves. The concern, however, is that because the avatar is, fundamentally, the skeleton key to your private offline information, from your PII to your financial accounts, if a hacker gains access to your avatar, then they can open the door to your entire life. 
  • The metaverse will function through its own forms of currency. Just as in the physical world, scammers and thieves will flock to anything of value, and the metaverse, despite the fact that it is still in its nascent stages, has already been the site of some pretty breathtaking scams. In fact, it’s estimated that more than $14 billion in cryptocurrency was lost to fraudsters in 2021 alone.
  • Among the most disconcerting of the potential cybersecurity threats in the metaverse is the risk of biometric hacking. Because the metaverse functions through VR/AR, users will need to wear VR headsets and, potentially, other VR/AR technologies, such as haptic gloves. Critics fear that hackers may gain access to these biometrics which could not only enable them to gain access to sensitive accounts, but may also provide access to private information about the end user’s physical functioning and medical status

Metaverse: Open for Business?

The MIT Technology Review outlines opportunities that the Metaverse offers for companies.

  • As an experiential medium, the metaverse has been most prominent at the consumer-facing level. Luxury fashion house Gucci, for example, has started selling items on gaming platforms with a digital version of a famous bag costing more than the physical model. Stella Artois, building on a history of live horse racing, has worked with Zed Run to create a 3D Tamagotchi-like experience crossed with the Kentucky Derby.
  • But companies also use the Metaverse on the supply side. In January 2022, Hyundai, in partnership with Unity, a 3D content producer, announced plans to build a platform for a meta-factory to enable remote problem-solving, test runs of new facilities, and simulations for consumers. BMW has worked with AI company Nvidia to create a demo digital twin of a BMW production plant that allows 3D design teams to work together simultaneously across multiple software suites in a shared virtual space.
  • The market for digital twins—virtual representations that serve as real-time replicas of a physical object—is projected to grow to $86 billion by 2025, according to business consulting firm Grand View Research, with the likes of Unilever, Boeing, and Siemens Energy among the adopters.

How NFTs in the Metaverse Can Improve the Value of Physical Assets in the Real World

In VentureBeat, Leonard Kish argues that NFTs in the metaverse can improve the value of physical assets in the real world.

  • In crypto, we can build models of the real world that carry over many of its properties. The natural opportunity will be in digital twins. Digital twins create a universe of information about buildings or other physical assets and are tied to the physical world. In other words, they are that meta-layer. By integrating blockchain technology, in the form of NFTs, all data and information surrounding the physical twin can be verified and saved, forever, all tracked with the asset itself. 
  • When evaluating crypto/blockchain’s relationship to the metaverse, it’s important to remember that crypto is about verification and validation. 
  • NFTs cannot be copied because they are tied to the validation and verification process in time, which is what makes them nonfungible. As the capabilities of NFTs grow, they are becoming a new information dimension that is tied to the real world. NFT domains are going to be core to this idea. They become a nonfungible data space, uniquely tied to us and our activity on Web3. In the metaverse, these domain NFTs can represent a house; recording and validating every visitor, repair, event, etc. And that record and that infrastructure can be sold not just with the house but as a core component of the house, increasing the value.

M&Ms For Your Virtual Avatars

Mars Inc. applies for crypto, NFT, Metaverse trademarks for M&Ms.

  • As the NFT and Metaverse sector is taking a huge shape, top tiered organizations all over the world are entering the space continuously. Mars Inc. is the latest entry in this list.
  • The leading international chocolate manufacturer Mars Inc. has submitted an application for its well liked brand M&M. Michael Kondoudis, a licensed trademark attorney made this announcement in a Twitter post last week, highlighting that the request entails NFTs as well as virtual tokens, snacks and digital candies.
  • The brand follows the likes of Adidas, Nike, Prada, Gucci, which have already forayed into the Metaverse space.

10 Metaverse Dangers CIOs and IT Leaders Should Address

Techtarget highlights 10 metaverse dangers CIOs and IT leaders should address.

  • Metaverse platforms are likely to increase the potential range and amount of personal data that third parties collect. That massive amount of data is a goldmine tech companies and marketers can potentially exploit.
  • Metaverse platforms pose many of the same cyber risks that current web applications pose. In addition, the extended reality hardware that many metaverse platforms rely on will create new vulnerabilities for corporate networks and ways for hackers to exploit data.
  • For some, a primary appeal of metaverse realities is the ability to take on an identity divorced from the reality of the physical, everyday life. That high level of anonymity presents opportunities for bad actors. Closely related to the issue of anonymity is the ways in which metaverse platforms may enable new forms of personal aggression.
  • Metaverse platforms require access to and use of more technologies, such as VR headsets and even specialized bodywear containing haptic technology, which is a barrier to entry for anyone without the funds to pay for such technologies.

University of Cincinnati to Offer 2 New Cryptocurrency Programs Starting this Fall

The University of Cincinnati will soon offer two new classes on cryptocurrency. 

  • Thanks to a recent donation, UC announced it will offer the new programs within the Carl H. Lindner College of Business this fall and open a new lab dedicated to cryptocurrency. The new programs will promote student learning of blockchain technology and digital assets, UC said in a news release.
  • The donation was made by K&S Companies co-founder Dan Kautz and UC economics alumnus Woodrow Uible, who established the Kautz-Uible Economics Institute together at Lindner in 2019.
  • “Thanks to Dan and Woody, our students will gain hands-on, experiential education in this new frontier of financial technology,” Marianne Lewis, dean of the Lindner College of Business, said in the release. “Our students will learn how to manage cryptocurrencies and how such digital assets impact our economy, positioning UC as the regional leader and among the top universities nationally with this kind of program.”

Related Articles