Its a fair bet that both blockchain and AR/VR technology will play a significant part in shaping the brave new world we are heading towards.
These are both young industries with a lot of room to grow, and we are starting to see some convergence. Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam thinks that VR could be blockchain’s killer app, but how can a decentralized ledger based on complex cryptographic algorithms merge with immersive entertainment or gaming?
A few projects are working on this very question, proposing innovative and exciting solutions that will help shape the future of both industries. Most of these projects are taking place on the Ethereum blockchain, using the ERC20 token protocol to incentivize users and smart contracts for validation.
Decentraland — a VR platform where users can create, experience, and monetize content and applications.
This project is currently the most significant VR platform on the Ethereum blockchain, with a marketcap of $76 million and around 18,000 holders.
So what’s special about Decentraland? Pop on some VR goggles and you can explore a virtual world and even build parts of it yourself.
By purchasing land through the Ethereum blockchain, an immutable record of ownership is created, while smart contracts track all modifications. Once you own land, then its yours to do with as you choose — build houses and businesses, hang out with friends, listen to music or even go swimming with dolphins. The only limit is your imagination! There are some parallels with Second Life, and I can see this turning into a sandbox for real creativity and escapism.
What makes it really interesting is the monetization aspect. The buying and selling of parcels of land allows speculators to gamble on the value of the plots that make up Genesis City increasing in the future. There are already plenty of would-be virtual property tycoons buying up parcels of land in the hope of becoming a blockchain Donald Trump. Another exciting mechanism (for the future) is that if you build some useful service, for example a casino, concert hall, or art gallery, then people might pay for access or buy virtual goods once inside. Check out Crowdconscious’ article for more details about how this might evolve and encourage virtual entrepreneurship.
Decentraland is still in the early stages. Despite raising $24 million, successful execution of key milestones is crucial to its long term success. A lot will depend on the graphics and gameplay, and until a user-friendly scene editor that normal people can use is released, adoption beyond the tech-savvy is likely going to be limited.
VibeHub — VR/AR marketplace where all kinds of events (live concerts, seminars, dating) can occur.
This project has a marketcap of $34 million and around 3800 holders.
VibeHub allows anyone to buy or sell VR experiences. Adjust your headset, and before you know it, you could be rocking out at a live concert, meeting up with a celebrity, learning about the pyramids from an ancient Egyptian or blasting through space while fighting off aliens. Interestingly, the platform is also planning a dating feature, so I guess this will work like Tinder but not for real, with the added bonus of treating your date to some VR experience (although don’t expect much from the food and drink on the platform!).
Experiences are paid for using the VIBE token, which will also be used to buy digital assets and cast votes. The platform uses a hybrid off-chain solution that takes micro-transactions away from the Ethereum network with no gas fees.
VibeHub is also making use of Volumetric videos, which is the cutting edge of tech used to capture and stream live performances. Basically, the process records a hologram image of a performer in a live setting and places that performance in custom VR environments, allowing some unique immersive experiences.
VibeHub has great potential to allow artists, educators and public figures to present themselves in a new way, and open up to new audiences. There is certainly a valid use case for monetizing creative virtual content, but it remains to be seen how much competition they will face. Similar but (currently) non-blockchain VR entertainment portals have already been deployed (Jaunt, NextVR) and the platform will live or die on the quality of the content it can attract.
Cappasity — decentralized AR/VR ecosystem for 3D content exchange
This project has a marketcap of $10 million and around 6700 holders.
Cappasity will allow 3D object creation, which can then be embedded into websites. The initial purpose will be for immersive shopping experiences. Its a solid use case, as the drawback of online shopping using static 2D images is that you cannot be sure what a product is really like. However, if the item is rendered in 3D, and maybe overlaid upon an avatar, then you have a much better idea if those shoes or snazzy sweater will actually looks good or foolish. Importantly they already have a product that is being used by big retail players like Shopify.
Blockchain tech comes into play as 3D content creators will be able to produce, rent and sell AR/VR content through the Cappasity marketplace. Each content file is assigned with an ID or a hash to prevent any copyright infringement. When content is sold, its at the seller’s price and the ecosystem participants are charged close to no fees.
If the marketplace matures, then any industry that uses 3D content could be attracted to Cappasity’s platform. Encouraging quality content creators will of course be key to success.
Blockv — building smart, experiential assets for the digital goods economy
This project has a marketcap of $46 million and around 6500 holders.
Blockv allows ownership of unique, verifiable and tradable virtual objects that can exist across a variety of different environments — AR, VR, mobile, TV, and so on. By using the platform developers can build smart digital objects that bring the digital world to life. An example would be a digital key that can be used to redeem a real world object.
These smart objects, called vAtoms (Virtual Atoms), combine code with multimedia elements that could make cryptocurrency a bit more playful, and an interesting asset for developers, brands and end users.
Recently DJ Sasha used the platform to for a ticket giveaway to a live rehearsal. After downloading an app, participants had to find out the secret location and rehearsal time, locating an object through an augmented reality feature. Its certainly a novel way to engage with fans in a gamified way, and these types of experiential marketing campaigns will probably become more and more popular.
Blockv is an ambitious project, that aims to be blockchain agnostic, but if they pull it off, then they will be well-positioned to take a lead in experiential marketing and the field of ‘smart objects’.
Matryx — tackling science’s greatest challenges using VR and blockchain based collaboration
This project has a marketcap of $10 million and 2400 holders
Nanome, the company behind Matryx, designs VR interfaces for pharmaceutical clients, and its products are in use by some of the world’s largest research and development labs. Blockchain is being utilised to allow its suite of VR products to be used in a collaborative manner, and incentivize innovations in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Scientists can use the VR systems to design and simulate with nanoscale precision.
So how will this collaborative process work? An organisation (government, university or private company) with a problem to solve can post a bounty on the Matryx platform, and then users can respond to this, designing and submitting solutions using VR tools. Users are likely to collaborate to solve problems, share results, and earn rewards. Rewards are given to all relevant contributors, and the submissions are added to the Matryx library and marketplace for future purchase. This will create an ecosystem of public collaboration and incentivize and drive research and innovation.
Its a neat idea, as scientific discoveries are nearly always made by standing on the shoulders of giants, building on many years of shared knowledge. Matryx should reduce the friction of collaboration by providing a common framework and concrete goals, and an open system allowing anyone with ideas and skills to participate. Hopefully this will lead to some groundbreaking discoveries in the process, making life better for everyone!
This is just a sample of what blockchain and AR/VR has to offer — the future of this crossover looks bright!
I dont have space to write about them here, but some other interesting early-stage projects to keep an eye on include CEEK, Mark.Space and Avara.
I expect to see many more AR/VR projects that utilize blockchain to appear in the next few years. Real world applications such as gaming, entertainment, property markets, classrooms and of course porn are all on the threshold of adopting the tech. So put on those dorky goggles, and see you on the other side!
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