Metaverse Deep Dive
Revolutionary Tech for the Evolutionary Use Cases of the Metaverse
Benson Oak Ventures hosted its second Web3 webinar series - “Deep Dive Into The Metaverse: Infrastructure & Use Cases.” Moderated by Celina Mukarker (BO Head of Community), the panel included me alongside two founders who are pioneers in the space: Hrish Lotlikar from SuperWorld and Moshe Bitan from AR-51.
Before diving into the recap, a quick overview of our thoughts on the Metaverse.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
― Bill Gates
This is even more true when it comes to our estimation of technology and especially what we all call the “Metaverse”. For most, the immediate reaction revolves around Ready Player One. That seems far away, and also not sure that is something to which to aspire — given the dystopian, lonely world it embodies.
Facebook has, of course, made a huge bet on the Metaverse; as such, they are very focused on VR - and likely sucking us into an ad-infested world akin to Ready Player One (sorry, couldn't resist). We tend to take the Apple view espoused by Tim Cook that “augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far" since AR allows people to be more "present." Our investment in AR-51 was predicated in part on the notion of Apple doing for AR glasses what it has done for the phone, tablet, watch, AirPods, etc. And in all those cases, they take their time to perfect the device but ultimately change the way billions of consumers interact with media and content.
Our Metaverse investment thesis echoes the view that AR will be bigger — and faster to mass market usage - because AR will be more natural for consumers, representing an extension of our normal experiences augmented with the ability to work, meet, game, consume and socialize together.
VR solutions seem more intent on transforming our reality - proverbially blowing up our world into something virtual. There will be exciting use cases around VR for sure. However, from a commercial and business-building point of view (Passionware!), we see more immediate opportunities from AR-enabled infrastructure.
As in the case of both Superworld and AR-51, technological solutions based on AR will augment current mass-market use cases— thus enabling the real world to meet the digital world.
Now to the recap of the event — the panelists shared how they define the Metaverse and how the use cases of their respective technologies before addressing the market challenges to broaden adoption in both the short and long-term.
The Metaverse: Basic Definitions
"The Metaverse is a digital representation of the real world and brings two key elements that are game-changers. First, the experience will be truly immersive, making the actual experiences better in terms of interactivity, social, and just plain cool. 2nd is a tie to Web3 - direct and shared ownership create new economies.” - Robert Cohen
"The Metaverse brings together our physical and our virtual life - this digital life that has connections and that we should, as a society, as individuals, really grasp and optimize. The benefits of the metaverse are going to become a reality soon, but it's unevenly distributed. Over the next few years, this will be more evenly distributed as all of us realize the benefits of the Metaverse in bringing the physical and the virtual together." - Hrish Lotlikar
"The Metaverse is a single multi-layer, multi-participant, 2D and soon 3D immersive environment. It's basically a natural evolution of all of the technology that we've seen in the last decades and brings together gaming, e-commerce, entertainment, social media, and more." - Moshe Bitan
Metaverse Use Cases:
Both Superworld and AR-51 focus on augmented reality more than virtual reality, and their use cases thus reflect this overall vision.
Metaverse Real Estate = Economic Infrastructure for Creator-led Businesses
VR-based real estate will transform a place into something more visually appealing, and by definition, likely better than the real world. In AR, real estate will represent more traditional economic infrastructure — providing a place for creators of all types to engage in business, using AR to augment the experience as well as sell products and services (using tokens, NFTs, and other augmented devices).
This is the Superworld model promulgated by Hrish. SuperWorld is a 1:1 digital copy of the earth geographically mapped onto the real world, allowing users to buy and sell virtual real estate, as well as create, discover and monetize AR content tagged onto real-world locations.
Hrish explained that the inspiration to build Superworld came from Pokemon go because it enabled people to put content in real-world locations and create competitions around the content. And that's the vision of Superworld, creating a real-world utility that allows the users to utilize content in a real-world location as well as digital via Web3 and access customers anywhere in the world that will seek to buy your content or engage with your products.
Examples of creator-led business opportunities on Superworld include:
Enabling artists to showcase their art in physical locations where their potential customers exist.
Creating economic zones where someone can own land and then add features, design, and even digital buildings to provide a marketplace in their zone (and take a share of all GMV)
Sale of 3D items (Superworld sold 3D yachts) that provides utility or ownership (e.g. entry to the Monaco yacht show)
Superworld is at its heart a form of Passionware - a place that provides infrastructure, tools, and platforms for anyone to start, grow and scale a business. Go to SuperWorld and see more and play around!
Metaverse Entertainment = Experience it as if you are THERE
In a VR world, there will be some exciting virtual experiences - for example, the Travis Scott concert beamed to millions with Fornite is a classic Metaverse use case.
AR-51 has developed a unique platform to record, produce and stream content - relevant for Metaverse applications, the motion capture industry, and ultimately AR/VR streaming of live events capture. Using parametric capture, their system is markerless - which will make the creation of future Gollums much easier.
With a series of algorithms that work together in order to capture anything and everyone inside of the environment, AR-51 can digitize anything that is in the real world and stream that to the Metaverse. This capture technology uses lower cost cameras that use visible light and deep neural networks. It identifies people inside the environment, their body parts, and movement and then streams it using AR 51's internal SDKs.
The result is the first multi-player free-roam augmented reality experience. As seen in the shared GIF, AR 51 allows a VR experience where their optical system captures the movement without any molecules or suits and then digitalizes it and streams it to the headset. The potential for the motion capture industry and new forms of user value, content, and business opportunities for gaming, amusement parks, and other location-based entertainment (LBE).
The huge future opportunity is live events - a market populated by close to 300M consumers globally, generating $28 billion in event revenue and much more in streaming rights — see recent deals by Apple in soccer for $2.5B, and Indian cricket for $3B) plus the multi-billions spent on NFL, baseball and others involving traditional TV as well as streaming on Apple TV, Facebook, Amazon Prime and Disney).
AR-51 will provide more forms of content and interactivity to an existing experience (and business model). As Moshe explained, AR 51 tech can create a Livestream - in real-time or as recorded highlights - in environments as big as a soccer field with the use of their cameras and AI system. Therefore, providing all users with an enhanced immersive experience as if they were in the real world from their homes.
"They will experience in the virtual world what they can't have in the physical world. But it will feel physical and feels natural. So that's the objective of AR51 - to bring live 3D content to everybody. So they'll be able to see that from their home."
This revolutionary tech will build the digital infrastructure needed to realize the huge market opportunity around capturing, producing, and streaming content alongside the hardware advancements in-store from Apple and many large players.
3. Market challenges and adoption - summary and quotes
By this point of your reading, you probably wonder, what will drive market adoption? How can we broaden the market and see more uses for the Metaverse infrastructures?
Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has forecasted that the Metaverse may generate up to $5 trillion by 2030. In addition, more than 80% of commerce could be impacted by activities in the Metaverse.
The panelists broke it down into three points that will help take us there -
1) Awareness - the Metaverse evolution has already started with the shift in the way people interact with each other and with information. From users depending on zoom in their day-to-day lives to gaming and how they consume information and media.
"What people do not realize is that the Metaverse adoption is already happening with a lot of active users that engage in the Metaverse on a day-to-day basis." - Moshe
2) Need for building strong infrastructure for the benefit of consumers (ease of use, great UI/UX, etc). The current use cases in the market are the obvious digital representation of the physical. However, there's a lot of friction getting into some of these use cases, from wallet technology (check our last panel blog where we hosted the ZenGo wallet founder) to being able to buy crypto or buy digital assets or simply be able to actively participate and utilize your assets. The market needs more investments into making the technology a lot faster and more user-friendly to onboard mainstream users. That is inevitably happening with all the investment that has gone into Web3 startups - $100B over the last 3-5 years.
3) More creators and creative opportunities. Hrish said it very well —
I think we're seeing the change in the creator economy, and people realizing that they have to go into more creative pursuits and that they're actually able to do that because they're now capable of going directly to their customers/fans and be able to cut out the middleman in terms of utilizing these technologies as well leverage the technologies to do so in a much more compelling way." - Hrish
As investors in the space, we tie our investment thesis around Metaverse to our core belief in passionware - the idea that anyone can create and scale a business, especially around shared ownership. As I stated in my definition of the Metaverse, the Web3 element will lead to explosive growth by enabling creators to create new forms, economies, and “worlds” fueled by Metaverse infrastructure.
All these new amazing things creators can bring to the Metaverse, they are owners and benefit from royalties and all else. So we can create assets and content as a representation of the real world — with direct benefit to owners. - Robert
From a commercial point of view, these are evolutionary steps - taking known use cases and enabling the development of new products and services around those use cases while also transforming their business models. Sounds simple but all of this requires revolutionary tech to create the underlying infrastructure and sense of “reality”. Superworld and AR-51 are two great examples of this revolutionary tech built around real business use cases.
We thank Moshe and Hrish for joining our panel and laud their vision, perseverance, and technological capabilities as they seek to provide value to millions of creators and consumers alike — around the world, both real and digital!
If you share our excitement in the development of the Metaverse technology and are interested to see the full recording of our second Web3 event or connecting to the panelists, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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