The day when you will build a house or office on a digital plot with the help of an architect or designer may not be so far away.
Metaverse – a concept until a few years ago known only to technology enthusiasts – today is a topic that occupies the front pages and, whether we like it or not, it’s time to get to know it, understand it and work out how to get the best out of it.
Officially launched in October by Mark Zuckerberg, although coined by Neil Stevenson in his cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” thirty years ago, the term “metaverse” means a three-dimensional space within which real people can move, socialize, work, share property and experiences through their avatars. A real virtual place to hang out.
Dramatic increase in interest
Interest in pure digital ownership, constant and impressive virtual experiences and advanced technology has grown dramatically in the last fifteen months, and terms such as metaverse, blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFT (non-fungible or irreplaceable token) are (almost) on everyone’s lips today. And it’s not just rumors.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the value of NFTs rose to 10.7 billion dollars in the third quarter of 2021. According to their data, the metaverse will be worth $ 800 billion by 2024, and a study by Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2030, metaverses, games and NFT will cover 10% of the luxury goods market. In particular, it is estimated that luxury NFT-based collectibles will add another 25 billion in revenue to this sector.
NFT, Crypto, Meta… what? Here are some definitions
The metaverse is a set of interconnected virtual spaces that provide new methods of interaction and reaction thanks to virtual reality, blockchains and NFTs. Its matter consists of data and information from the real world, and its structure is space-time, as well as the physical universe.
It interacts with the real world, and to access it, you need VR equipment to interact with virtual objects; the metaverse uses devices and applications we already use on our computers or smartphones and connects to real financial systems to make the most of virtual items.
NFT, on the other hand, is a smart contract that assigns ownership of a digital work or, better said,ownership of a digital object or file, that represents that work. This file is compressed into a fixed-size binary string known as a hash, through a non-invertible process known as hashing, which guarantees its uniqueness.
This compressed sequence is stored on a platform that uses blockchain technology, where it can circulate and exchange. NFTs retain all the benefits of blockchain: decentralization, disintermediation, registry immutability, traceability, and content verifiability.
NFTs can be anything that is digital, but currently the most talked about is the use of this technology to buy and sell digital art. Hence the importance of cryptocurrencies – in addition to real capital – that is, virtual money whose transactions are recorded on a blockchain, open, distribution register that remembers them securely, verifiably and permanently.
Who does what in this digital “soup”?
Of course, this universe is already flooded with a large number of different players. Let’s start from the beginning.
NFT has become technically possible thanks to Ethereum’s blockchain – one of the most popular cryptocurrencies. They were first used in the online game CryptoKitties, which allows users to create, share and sell virtual cats, apparently the most beloved pets on the web, and certainly adored by the customer who first paid more than $ 170,000.
Since then, their popularity has only grown and grown. Among the NFT content that went on sale in the last few months was the first post by technology entrepreneur Jack Dorsey on Twitter (sold for $ 2.9 million), Trevor Andrew’s “Gucci Ghost” (which earned $ 3,600) and a “dunking” video of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James’ ($ 210,000).
In July last year, an NFT version of Banksy’s sculpture “Spike” was also put up for auction. The physical version of the work remains the property of tenor Vittorio Grigol: whoever bought the digital work for $ 150,000 does not own the original physical work. In the vocabulary of classical collecting, anyone can buy a Monet print, but only one person can own an original painting.
In Italy, Cambi organized the first NFT auction in the country, called “Dystopian Visions”, where 18 artists placed their digital works of art on the virtual market SuperRare.
Louis Vuitton launched the video game “Louis The Game” with integrated NFTs to mark its bicentennial, and even the cosmetics company Guerlain could not last long, inviting many today’s artists to produce original digital works with NFT certification on the subject of art and matter.
Monkeys are part of one of the most successful NFT collections, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, launched in April on the OpenSea platform; the cheapest painting is worth about $ 200,000, and the most expensive as much as $ 3 million.
And what about design?
The question spontaneously arises: what good is a sofa if you can’t sit on it? Apart from Mars House, the first digital house on Mars, conceived by Krista Kim and sold as NFT for half a million dollars on the SuperRare platform, the design sector has not yet managed to come up with an effective or satisfactory answer.
Andres Reisinger, a Buenos Aires-based artist living in Barcelona, sold ten virtual pieces of furniture for a total of $ 450,000 at Nifty Gateway in just ten minutes. The NFT collection is called “The Shipping”, and the most expensive piece cost $ 67,777.
The Furniture Unhinged collection by American designer Misha Khan was sold at auction in Christies in August for $ 170,000.
These were just two examples of a new approach to design, which eliminates the need for objects to be touched by hand in order to enjoy them, proposing an original way of using furniture, without time and space restrictions.
All of these items can be implemented digitally and placed in any metaverse, shared 3D virtual space, used in virtual and augmented reality applications, or resold at future online auctions, increasing value with their authenticity and blockchain-verified origins.
Plots to the land of the Metaverse
The final limit in this area is the acquisition of a plot in the metaverse on which you will build a digital house or office, perhaps hiring a virtual architect or digital designer, as well as equipping real estate with NFT furniture.
In Decentraland, plots are sold at prices starting at a few thousand dollars, while the most expensive one was sold in November for 2.4 million dollars, which is more expensive than a house in New York or San Francisco. Of course, purchases are made exclusively in cryptocurrencies.
Don’t let the future catch you unprepared
We have been living in a world where digital and physical realities are deeply intertwined for more than a decade now. Activities such as playing cards with friends in a virtual space station, a virtual visit to the space before shopping, the opportunity to “see” what a still unpurchased piece of furniture will look like in our apartment – everything is now possible.
Does the metaverse really seem like science fiction? Wondering how reality and our relationship with her and others in the metaverse can change may not be the right question. Wondering how reality and our relationship with her and others in the metaverse can change may not be the right question.
But technology and pioneers in this new field are making giant steps quickly. Within ten years, a future that does not yet exist will be a reality. Don’t get caught you unprepared.