September 5, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of September 5, 2022

Here are this week’s highlights in the Metaverse World, including news of a set of iconic brands, Sotheby’s and Hermès, that are doubling down on the Metaverse:

The Block - Sotheby’s hires an NFT specialist to join their digital art team.

  • The historic art auction house Sotheby’s has hired an NFT specialist to join its digital art team: Brian Beccafico. Beccafico, who comes from a family of art collectors, is an NFT art collector who has purchased works from the top names in crypto, including Beeple, Pak, Fewocious, and XCOPY.
  • Sotheby’s has steadily increased its involvement in NFTs since it auctioned its first NFT, one by digital creator Pak for nearly $17 million in April 2021. In October, the auction house launched its own NFT platform called Sotheby’s Metaverse.
  • Sotheby's offers NFTs through multiple sale formats, including auction, buy-now, and generative drops, and has a team of specialists in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong. Sotheby’s marquee sales for NFTs and digital art – Natively Digital – are held three times a year. Last year, when such things were searingly hot, the most expensive Bored Ape Yacht Club ever sold went for $3.4 million, and the second most expensive Cryptopunk ever sold reached $11.7 million.

Arabia Travel News - Emirates to launch NFTs and experiences in the metaverse.

  • The airline, which has earned a reputation for its innovative products and customer-centric services, unveiled its plans to build signature brand experiences in the metaverse, alongside collectible and utility-based NFTs. The first projects are already underway, with a launch anticipated in the coming months.
  • Emirates also announced that its Emirates Pavilion at the Expo 2020 site will be repurposed into a centre for innovation, bringing talent from all over the globe to bring to life the airline’s future-focused projects, including those relating to the metaverse, NFTs and Web3.
  • HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “Dubai and the UAE are blazing the way in the digital economy, having a clear vision supported by practical policies and regulatory frameworks in areas such as virtual assets, artificial intelligence, and data protection.”

Finbold – Cryptocurrency News - Luxury brand Hermès ventures into metaverse with crypto and NFT trademark filing.

  • The emergence of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and metaverse concepts has ushered in an opportunity for global brands to explore different means of connecting with customers. In this line, luxury brand Hermès is preparing to enter the space through trademark filings.
  • In particular, Hermès filed a trademark for its name, seeking to expand into NFTs and virtual currency, crypto, and NFT trading, virtual goods marketplaces, clothing, footwear, and fashion shows. If the trademark filings are approved, Hermès will also offer downloadable computer game software featuring virtual goods and user authentication services using e-commerce technology, among others.
  • The general NFT trademarks have surged as more brands continue betting on the sector. As per a Finbold report, NFT-related trademarks in the United States between January 1 to May 31, 2022, hit 4,049. In this case, on average, 27 new NFT trademarks were filed per day over the reviewed period.

Crypto Presales - Crypto Companies Laid off Nearly 5,000 Employees as Coins Slump.

  • Cryptocurrencies have suffered a massive hit in 2022, losing $1.9 trillion in value since the height of last year’s rally. Although crypto companies struggled to weather the storm, many had to make significant cost-cutting measures and lay off their staff.
  • According to data analyzed by Crypto Presales, crypto companies laid off nearly 5,000 employees as the market started melting.
  • Massive layoffs come as the crypto market is struggling as a whole. According to CoinMarketCap data, Bitcoin and Ethereum have lost 55% and 46% in total value year-over-year, while other largest digital coins witnessed an even more brutal plunge. Cardano’s market cap dipped by a massive 82% in the last year, followed by Dogecoin’s 76% loss.
  • The data showed the San Francisco-based Coinbase made the biggest job cuts in the crypto market this year. In June, the company announced laying off 1,100 people, or almost a fifth of its workforce, amid a collapse in its stock and crypto prices.

VentureBeat - Inworld AI raises $50M to populate games and the metaverse with smart characters.

  • The company’s idea is to populate games with smarter computer-controlled characters so players can have longer conversations with them and feel like the world is much more immersive.
  • The company was started a year ago by conversational AI pioneers Ilya Gelfenbeyn, Michael Ermolenko, and Kylan Gibbs. The company raised the money to bring richer social interactions of smarter computer-controlled characters — known as NPCs or non-player characters — to immersive worlds in gaming, metaverses, entertainment, and brand experiences.
  • Inworld brings NPCs to life for gaming, metaverse, and business applications. While virtual worlds have become more immersive, realistic, and open, interactions with characters have remained relatively static, relying on scripted dialogue and behavior.

Appventurez - How The Metaverse Will Transform The Travel Industry.

  • There’s no denying it: the travel sector has taken a blow since COVID began. However, there is cause to be optimistic about travel and hospitality, especially with the metaverse’s promise just around the bend.
  • Many travel firms are already using virtual and augmented reality to differentiate their services, stress their position as high-quality service providers, and remain ahead of the competition.
  • We’ll be able to travel to any area on the earth and experience it in real time in the metaverse. These innovations will transform our connection with travel by reducing the time we spend waiting at railway stations, in security lines, or fretting about missed buses.
  • Hotels, for example, may utilize virtual reality tours or digital avatars to allow visitors to walk around a realistic replica of their facility, obtaining a feel of room sizes and amenities. Meanwhile, metaverse impact on travel will operators may employ virtual reality tours to provide consumers lifelike experiences of places they want to visit.

Kotaku - AI Creating 'Art' Is An Ethical And Copyright Nightmare.

  • Whether it’s random jokes made for Twitter or paintings that look like actual human beings made them, artificial intelligence’s ability to create art has exploded onto the scene over the last few months, raising several important questions and concerns.
  • As Ahmed Elgammal wrote in American Scientist, it is made when “artists write algorithms not to follow a set of rules, but to ‘learn’ a specific aesthetic by analyzing thousands of images. The algorithm then tries to generate new images in adherence to the aesthetics it has learned.”
  • We now live in a world where machines have been fed millions upon millions of pieces of human endeavour and are using the cumulative data they’ve amassed to create their works. This has been fun for casual users and interesting for tech enthusiasts, sure, but it has also created an ethical and copyright black hole, where everyone from artists to lawyers to engineers has very strong opinions on what this all means for their jobs and for the nature of art itself.

TechCrunch - Star-studded digital avatar startup Genies launches NFT fashion marketplace.

  • Digital avatar startup Genies, known its for high-profile partnerships with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Migos and Cardi B, has just released its long-anticipated NFT storefront, “The Warehouse.”
  • Genies last earned a $1 billion valuation from heavy-hitting tech investors, including Silver Lake and Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital, during its most recent raise, a $150 million Series C round announced in April.
  • The Los Angeles-based company partnered with NBA Top Shot NFT creator Dapper Labs to develop the storefront on Dapper’s Flow blockchain and debuted it to a group of invite-only beta users in December last year, TechCrunch reported at the time.
  • Now, The Warehouse is available to the general public, meaning users can download the Genies Studio app to create their avatars and buy digital fashion items to dress them, Genies CEO and founder Akash Nigam told TechCrunch in an interview.

The Guardian - UK forces crypto exchanges to report suspected sanction breaches.

  • Crypto exchanges must report suspected sanctions breaches to UK authorities under new rules amid concerns that bitcoin and other crypto assets are being used to dodge restrictions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Official guidance was updated on 30 August to explicitly include “crypto assets” among those that must be frozen if sanctions are imposed on a person or company. As well as digital currencies, such as bitcoin, ether, and tether, crypto assets could include other valuable digital assets, such as non-fungible tokens.
  • The rules, set by the Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, will mean crypto exchanges are committing a criminal offense if they fail to report clients designated for sanctions.

Decrypt - How Are NFTs Stored? On-Chain, Off-Chain, and Decentralized Storage.

  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are, ultimately, a form of digital media. And just like other digital media—from the words written in Decrypt articles to YouTube videos and streamed music—NFTs, in their most basic form, consists of data made up of 1s and 0s.
  • Storing an NFT on-chain means that the entire NFT—the image and all its metadata—exists on a blockchain. Conversely, off-chain stored NFTs mean that some or most of the NFT is stored outside of the blockchain.
  • On-chain storage can be preferable because users can verify all facets of the NFT. However, very few NFT projects opt for this method of storage.
  • Often, the NFT image and its metadata are stored in a hash. This hash is used to point to either a centralized or decentralized hosting provider. In the case of off-chain storage, the NFT's smart contract contains information that points to some off-chain location where the actual NFT JPEG image is stored.

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