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How is virtual reality changing business?

For some time now, we’ve all had a pretty good idea of ​​what virtual reality is. This probably comes through extensive media coverage of new advancements, along with the various science fiction books and films that constantly feed the imagination.

Do any Star Trek fans recall the Holodeck, where visitors can enter virtual worlds of their own choosing? It doesn’t take much to appreciate that capabilities like these hold great potential for humanity. And while the simulated realities of The Matrix or Black Mirror are far from utopian, they are no less intriguing.

But it’s no good envisioning futuristic wonders if we are unable to put them into practice. So with that in mind, where are we in the progression of virtual reality and the technologies that are available to us, now and in the near future? Just how real is virtual reality for business use?

Key definitions

Let’s start by defining some key terms that are commonly used to refer to these new technologies.

  • Virtual Reality (VR) describes a simulated computer-generated environment that is usually an audiovisual experience, but it can also incorporate touch, motion, and smell. This may use apparatus like head-mounted devices (HMDs), hand-held controls, and haptic devices, like digital gloves or motion platforms.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) is the attempt to bring virtual reality into the real world. AR usually involves overlaying or projecting computer-generated text or visuals on objects or devices in the real world. Devices often include AR glasses or a Heads-up Display (HUD).
  • Mixed Reality (MR) is a similar term that describes the blending of the real, perceived world with digital creation. MR differs from AR in that it allows users to interact with their digital devices so they are not only viewing projections.
  • Extended Reality (XR) is the umbrella term more frequently used to encompass all the technologies of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

One thing that sets some of these technologies apart from the media we are more familiar with is Field of View (FOV). This describes how an environment can be viewed in terms of angle and degree.

The Degree of Freedom (DoF) determines the immersive experience of XR, and this is currently measured in level 3 (3DoF) and level 6 (6DoF). 3DoF allows movement by three axes, but only from one point, ie. the head, while 6DoF allows a greater range of movement. Merge and Google Cardboard are examples of headsets used in conjunction with smartphones that have 3DoF functionality. Daydream Standalone from Google has Worldsense 6DoF tracking.

virtual reality headset and controller

The evolution of extended reality

Experiments in augmented reality may go back to the nineteenth century, with stereoscopes that altered normal viewing. But the history of virtual reality really began in 1956 with the Sensorama. Created by cinematographer Morton Heilig, this invention used 3D visuals, sound, and vibration in an attempt to create an immersive experience beyond the movie theater.

This was followed up in the 1960s by the Sword of Damocles, which was the world’s first XR headset with computer-generated graphics, although it needed to be suspended from the ceiling. By the 1980s, VR headsets and gloves were manufactured for sale by VPL Research, and the term “virtual reality” was popularized.

In the 1990s, VR was introduced to arcade games, then console video games like Sega VR-1 and Nintendo Virtual Boy. These were not hugely successful, and things were quiet on the XR scene for the next decade.

The Oculus Rift VR Headset was created in 2010, and four years later, the company was acquired by Facebook. Google released Google Glass AR glasses and the more affordable Google Cardboard.

2015 brought us Samsung Gear VR, a collaboration with Oculus, and HTC Vive, both virtual reality headsets. 2016 saw the release of the HoloLens Headset from Microsoft and PlayStation VR from Sony.

The years that followed saw more large companies venturing into XR technologies, including HP, Nvidia, and Pico. The majority of headsets rely on the use of chips from Qualcomm.

Something that sets apart the various head-mounted displays is whether they need to be tethered to a particular device or not. Oculus GO and Google Daydream do not require a connection to another device, while Oculus Rift or HTC Vive are tethered headsets. Pico Neo headsets are popular for enterprise use because they don’t need to be tethered and they can be centrally controlled.

Augmented reality made itself known to the world in 2016 with the release of the hugely popular Pokemon GO, which was taken up by smartphone users the world over. AR is commonly used with smartphones and smart glasses, but there are also many wearable, handheld, projection, and tracking devices used for more specific purposes.

using a VR app on a piece of furniture

Applications and adoptions in current use

Virtual and augmented reality have found applications across a wide range of industries and business fields. While initially they were mainly associated with gaming and entertainment, enthusiasm has recently declined in these areas, as shown by this recent industry report. But in other sectors, extended realities are in high demand.

One sector that calls for the extra help of XR is retail. Online shopping is growing by the day – growth which has only been accelerated by the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic. VR and AR are able to address some of the difficulties of customers that cannot physically see or feel the products they wish to purchase.

One example of this is Ikea’s Augmented Reality App. It enables people who are shopping for furniture to see how items would look, and fit, in their homes. Other brands making the most of augmented or virtual reality technologies to improve the customer experience include Sephora, Apple, Nike, and L’Oreal.

Another sector that’s enjoying the benefits of XR is real estate. Buyers can be taken closer to the property (and the purchase) through virtual tours that show every corner of a property. Companies like Matterport carry out 360 digital capture then provide real estate agencies with life-like ‘walkthrough’ tours. Market leader Zillow has also developed its own 3D home tool.

In design, engineering, and construction, XR has an important place for modeling and projecting proposed projects. Companies like IrisVR are able to build immersive VR experiences from floor plans.

Great achievements have been made in healthcare, thanks to XR technologies. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) has been used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, while the Accuvein AV500 Vein Wipe makes the work of nurses quicker and simpler.

VR and AR have an important place for training, usually through simulation of real-world applications, which may also include telepresence or remote presence. This has already been applied to a wide range of fields, from the military to business. And it includes Hilton Hotel using Oculus for Business, to VR sports training Strivr that’s used by both the NBA and the NFL.

The need for training has opened up opportunities for budding XR businesses. Pixo VR is an XR company that made the move from gaming to training due to the increased demand and potential. VirtualSpeech is a program specifically developed for training in public speaking.

We have all seen the world become much more accustomed to video calls, white-boarding, and screen sharing in the time of COVID-19, but VR can take the experience even further with immersive collaboration. A major pet food company is using Oculus Quest headsets to let sales personnel become more familiar with the products and processes in a way that is more affordable and safe.

XR is not only available to large corporations with the extra funds to invest. According to a recent survey, 40% of SMEs use XR in training. Immersed is a VR software that enables businesses of all sizes to take part with centralized, untethered programs that can be customized to meet specific needs.

The challenges for extended reality

The future’s looking good for extended reality, but there are still some hurdles that need to be overcome.

XR is a new and fast-growing industry and suffers a lack of talent relative to high demand. And as a new technology, XR remains largely unregulated, but everything that takes place in any virtual environment could potentially have legal ramifications in the real world.

Online privacy and security are already a huge challenge for all businesses. But the expansion of XR may represent an additional vulnerability where personal behaviors and responses to virtual content are concerned.

An adverse impact on health is another concern, and this has been recorded in headaches, nausea, dizziness, and eye strain caused by changing sensory input. These effects vary from user to user, and they can have a considerable impact.

3D blocks illustrating the future

The future

The rise of XR is undeniable. According to data from PwC, XR’s boost to global GDP was $ 46.4 billion in 2019 and will increase to more than $ 1.5 trillion by 2030. This means that the upcoming decade will see a huge increase in attention on this relatively new industry.

In 2021, around 17% of Meta (formerly Facebook) worked in extended reality. The rebranding of the company is a way of gearing up for the Metaverse, which is the XR-enabled virtual environment that many view as the future of the internet. This will probably be built on Web 3.0 – the next iteration of the world wide web that will be decentralized and blockchain-powered.

Microsoft, Meta, and gaming platforms like Roblox are introducing XR technologies and readying themselves for the metaverse, which is a new virtual world that’s slowly but surely getting closer to realization.

Extended reality is soon to be noticed in many aspects of everyday life, and for businesses around the world, it will either be an important technology or an opportunity. We are at the brink of an exciting new technological revolution in which our two-dimensional tools are soon to become 3D and immersive. This year is set to introduce some exciting new trends in tech, which are sure to involve extended reality. What has for a long time been virtual is about to become real.

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wpadmin February 17, 2022 0 Comments

Crazy domain sales in 2021

The year 2021 was a stellar year for aftermarket domain name sales.

DNJournal tracks verified public domain name sales. While most big-ticket domain sales are never disclosed due to non-disclosure agreements, the rest end up in DNJournal’s charts.

Back in 2020, a domain that sold for $ 306,000 or more would land in the top 10 on the chart. How times have changed. In 2021, that number shot up to a whopping $ 1,945,000!

And back in 2020, a domain had to sell for $ 60,000 to make the Top 100 chart in 2020. Last year that number was $ 114,000, showing the depth of the domain sales boom.

Let’s take a look at the chart-topping sales of 2021.

Seven-figure sales

14 domain names sold for $ 1 million or more and were made public. Here’s a rundown:

  1. Hippo.com – $ 3,300,000) – Insurance company Hippo upgraded its domain from MyHippo.com to Hippo.com in 2019; it appears the sale was completed much later. It was included in an SEC filing in 2021. It is possible that the company had a lease-to-own or lease with an option to purchase the domain.
  1. Christmas.com ($ 3,150,000) – Christmas is year-round for some companies. One of those companies is Gordon Companies in New York. The company imports, wholesales, and retails Christmas merchandise such as ornaments, lights, and wreaths. It acquired this domain under a four-year payment plan but paid it off early.
  2. Floor.com – $ 3,144,000) – Floor.com is used for selling rugs.com. Little else is known about the buyer.
  1. Marketing.com – $ 2,500,000) – ColorArt LLC, a print, marketing and logistics service provider, bought this domain to host the company’s ordering portal technology. Right now, it resolves to a “coming soon” page.
  1. Forge.com – $ 2,202,000) – Forge helps people trade equities in private companies. It forwards the domain to its earlier domain name, ForgeGlobal.com.
  1. AFS.com ($ 2,000,000) – International consulting giant Accenture opened its wallet for this domain. It doesn’t use the domain, but it probably stands for Accenture [something] Services. Perhaps financial?
  2. NFT.com ($ 2,000,000) – NFT-related domain names flew off the shelves last year, so it makes sense that the most valuable NFT domain made the charts. As of January 2022, The domain resolves to a coming soon page.
Chicken examining her domain purchases
  1. Angel.com ($ 2,000,000) – Angel Studios is a crowdsourced filmmaking site. For example, it raised $ 5 million for an animated TV series called The Wingfeather Saga and $ 1 million for a TV series called Freelancers. It even crowdfunded a $ 5 million round of funding for its own company, which gave it the money to spend $ 2 million on a domain.
  1. IS.com ($ 1,950,000) – Domain investors pay upwards of $ 500,000, and sometimes over $ 1,000,000, for two-letter .com domains. When an end-user comes along to acquire one, it can often sell for more. That’s the case with IS.com. IronSource, an app development platform, picked up this short domain.
  1. Exodus.com ($ 1,945,000) – Cryptocurrency investors are awash in cash. These investors have acquired lots of domains, including Exodus.com, which is a bitcoin and crypto wallet.
  1. EE.com ($ 1,350,000) – Speaking of domain investors and two-letter domains, it’s possible that an investor acquired this domain, but we don’t know for sure. The buyer is in China, a hotbed for two-letter domain investing. The domain doesn’t resolve to a website yet.
  1. Meme.com ($ 1,250,000) – Visit meme.com and you’ll see some of your favorite memes, such as Grumpy Cat and the “distracted boyfriend” image. It will be interesting to see if the buyer has more plans for the site given the high domain price.
  1. Near.com ($ 1,150,000) – Near is a data intelligence company that connects physical and digital world data.
  1. eBike.com ($ 1,008,900) – eBikes (heck, any kind of bikes) are having a resurgence during the pandemic. Bosch, known for everything from kitchen appliances to eBikes, bought this domain for over $ 1 million. The seller made a nice return; he bought the domain for about $ 72,000 in an expired domain auction in 2018.

More in store for 2022?

There’s a new benchmark for top sales and it will be fun to see if 2022 can top 2021. Already, there are signs that big sales are continuing. DNJournal reports that Unlock.com sold for $ 1,228,200, marking the first entry into the seven-figure club this year.

Hold on to your hats, it’s going to be another wild year!

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wpadmin February 16, 2022 0 Comments

What are NFTs? And why are they important?

You may have heard of NFTs before. You may even know that NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. But you might not know exactly what that means and why this new technology is important for artists, creators, and businesses.

Chances are you first heard about NFTs from a news story about an eye-popping purchase price, like when the artist Beeple auctioned off his digital art piece Everydays: The First 5,000 Days for $ 69 million:

Photo from Christie’s auction house

Or when Jimmy Fallon bought a Bored Ape for $ 220,000:

Before we get into why NFTs are important, beyond these astronomical price tags, let’s first start by learning the basics.

What does non-fungible mean?

A fungible item is one that can be replaced by an identical item. Think of a dollar bill. My $ 1 bill has the same purchasing power as your $ 1 bill and any other $ 1 bill in circulation. In other words, they’re mutually interchangeable.

A non-fungible item, on the other hand, is unique and cannot be copied or substituted. The Statue of Liberty, the Mona Lisa, and a ticket for a seat at the Super Bowl are all non-fungible items. That is to say, they’re one-of-a-kind.

In the crypto world, if I hold one Ethereum token (ETH), it’s fungible because it’s worth the same as any other ETH token someone else is holding. On the other hand, I currently own a Crypto Coven, a profile picture NFT project featuring drawings of witches with individual lore written for each one. Mine, named soursop the cloudless (pictured below), is a non-fungible token (NFT) because out of all the 9,757 total Crypto Coven NFTs in existence, there’s only one that looks exactly like mine.


Living on the blockchain (sort of)

A blockchain can most easily be described as a decentralized and distributed server. When you interact with a blockchain like Bitcoin, you’re not just sending a transaction to a server farm somewhere as you would in a more centralized ecosystem like Amazon, for example. Instead, thousands of computers (referred to as miners) will verify portions of your transaction simultaneously. This makes the blockchain incredibly secure and essentially unhackable.

A token is simply a crypto asset that lives on the blockchain. There are many different tokens and many different blockchains. The most popular blockchain for NFT projects is Ethereum because it was specifically created to enable developers to build projects on top of it. NFTs contain code called a smart contract — a computer program stored on the blockchain that runs when certain conditions are met (more on this later).

At this point, you might be picturing my Crypto Coven NFT just kind of hanging out on the blockchain until I decide to sell it. That would only be partially true.

Blockchains are fairly limited when it comes to storage space. This is by design because everything that ever occurs on the blockchain will remain there in perpetuity. There’s a record that represents my ownership of my NFT on the Ethereum blockchain, but the image itself is not on the blockchain. So where is it? Images and other digital assets are typically stored elsewhere. IPFS, the Interplanetary File System is one of the most popular storage solutions because it is also a decentralized protocol.

There are some on-chain NFTs, meaning they’re fully stored on the blockchain. The most famous of which is Cryptopunks, a collection of 10,000 pixelated characters currently selling for a minimum of 62 ETH ($ 201,894.95). Cryptopunks are also one of the first-ever NFT projects and therefore one of the most sought after. Case in point, CryptoPunk # 3100 was the highest ever sold at 4,200 ETH ($ 7.58M).


The key takeaway here is that an NFT is a contract on the blockchain that signifies who owns a digital asset.

Why NFTs will be important for creators and businesses

Let’s go back to the concept of smart contracts. As I wrote above, a smart contract is a computer program stored on the blockchain that runs when certain conditions are met. So what kind of conditions are we talking about here and how can they be used by creators and businesses?

With collectible art projects, royalties can be programmed into the smart contract. Typically royalties are set at around 10%. This means that every time the NFT is sold, a percentage of that sale is programmatically sent to the original creator’s wallet. This guarantees that the original creators are always linked to their projects, a concept called provenance, and they’ll be able to share in the upside as their work becomes more well known.

Digital provenance is groundbreaking for art collectors who previously had to rely on authenticity experts to determine if a piece of artwork is the real deal or not. And it’s estimated that up to 20% of paintings owned by museums could be inauthentic. But if there is a record of provenance on the blockchain, it’s immutable and verifiable forever. So if an unauthorized copy is created, it’s trivial to figure out that it’s a fake.

In some cases, creators have granted full commercial licensing rights to whomever owns their NFTs. There are now two different craft brew companies using Bored Ape NFTs artwork — North Pier Brewing Company’s Bored Ape IPA and Alternate Ending Beer Co.’s limited-edition “Drink Your Peas” beer can featuring Bored Ape # 3500.

Bored Ape IPA label

Other uses for NFTs

While the most popular — and expensive — NFT projects thus far are for visual art, there are many other use cases.

We’re already seeing music NFTs gain in popularity. Jonathan Mann, who has been recording a new song each day for over 4,700 days in a row, is selling his video as NFTs. The popular band Kings of Leon sold lifetime access to VIP seats at their concerts. And musicians are doing this all while maintaining the rights to their own music.

NFTs can also be used to grant special access to online communities. Kevin Rose, the well-known investor and podcaster, recently sold 1,000 NFTs that gave owners access to his PROOF Collective community, a token-gated Discord group for serious NFT investors. Similarly, Invisible College, a learning organization I’m working on for crypto and web3-curious builders and creators, is launching a collection of 10,000 NFTs called Decentraliens that will grant lifetime access to courses, events, programming, and the learning community.

Flyfish Club, founded by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, is a private dining club at a new sushi restaurant being built in New York City. NFT owners will get access to the restaurant and various culinary, cultural, and social experiences. Not only that, they will be able to sell their access to other people who want to make a reservation.

An event could create NFT-based digital tickets with beautiful commissioned artwork on each one. Instead of pinning them to a corkboard to display them in their house, fans could show them off as part of their online identities and prove that they were there. And depending on the event, they could even be sold to collectors, thus sending royalties that are split with both the event coordinator and the artist. Imagine if Arnold Skolnick, the designer who created the iconic art for the original Woodstock concert was still getting royalties for that work to this day.

The more you descend into the NFT rabbit hole, the more you realize how impactful they can be, especially as our lives become more and more tied to our online identities.

The future of NFTs

Like any new technology, it’s impossible to predict all the ways developers, creators, and businesses will utilize NFTs and their innovative underlying smart contracts.

We will almost certainly see NFTs used for tracking ownership of things like real estate, college degrees, professional licenses, event tickets, and countless other contracts that currently live on pieces of paper. All of those will take time to come to fruition. And in some cases, most people might not even know NFT technology is being used for them.

Ultimately, the limit to what is possible with NFTs is up to our imagination.

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wpadmin February 10, 2022 0 Comments