Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are technologies that were first practically used in the early-to-mid 90s. Everybody can admit they are full of potential, but for the longest time nobody really could find a practical use for them. Their two primary functions have always been gaming and training and that’s still true right up to today. In this article we’ll discuss how VR technology and NFT technology might be the perfect match.
A Short History of Virtual Reality
Virtual reality was – like most technology – first thought of by science fiction authors. In fact, writer Stanley G Weinbaum is thought to be the first person to introduce the concept to the general public in his short story Pygmalion’s Spectacles, first published in 1935. However, it wasn’t until much later that Philip K. Dick, an author who mainly worked in the 60s and 70s, wrote extensively about virtual reality and it was forever lodged in popular culture. Then when Star Trek: The Next Generation aired in 1987, legions of younger science fiction fans were introduced to the holodeck, an advanced version of VR technology.
Recently these technologies have become very affordable coupled with the fact that wi-fi and internet connections have increased in speed and made VR and AR accessible to almost anyone. This has created a boom in VR and AR technology that will continue.
AR in particular has grown since it was first introduced and has a ton of applications for shoppers, tourism, designing, and social media, just to name a few. Social media companies like Facebook, in particular, have used AR to engage their users and keep them on their platform for longer.
Virtual Reality and NFTs
A Non-fungible token (NFT) is a token that represents a unique value of something digital like a piece of art, a song, or even a piece of writing. While each bitcoin has a set value – the same value as another bitcoin, an NFT can be worth much more or less than another NFT.
If you’re still confused, think of it this way: each car that comes out of a factory is identical with the same number of windows, doors, and wheels but it has a unique VIN number that tracks that specific car. When you look up a VIN number, you can tell who has owned it, how many times it’s been sold, how many car crashes it’s been in, and so forth. An NFT is kind of like that VIN number; it is a code that identifies the object, in this case a digital asset.
Virtual Reality and NFTs
Today anyone can build an online following and begin to sell their digital assets in the form of NFTs through third-party marketplaces. In the past, digital content that was freely shared can now be made unique by creating an NFT.
Ever since Satoshi Nakamoto first introduced Bitcoin to the world, crypto enthusiasts often have tried to interject cryptocurrencies into situations that didn’t actually require them, or even if they did, it was too soon for their adaptation. So lets’ look into the VR and AR markets and see if NFTs are something that can be used in the industry, or they are just another unnecessary bell and whistle.
NFTs and Gaming
We mentioned the gaming industry as an early adopter of AR and VR technology, and it will likely be the same with NFTs. What NFTs essentially allow is a standard that can cross boundaries. Right now, popular games like Fortnite and Overwatch have their own kingdoms; Basically what the game programmers say goes. If the game creators decide on a particular rule, then those playing the game are forced to adhere to it but with NFTs, that might change.
For example, right now, building an avatar is popular in games but you need to keep your avatar in the game that you build it. With the use of NFT technology, you can use that avatar in different gaming situations and perhaps maybe across social media platforms as well. That Fortnite character you spent hours and even hard-earned cash on might be able to be used on, say, Legend of Zelda quests. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Another example of when gamers choose to spend money on skins, body armour and weapons which are usually now paid with credit cards, but with NFTs you could easily trade this body armour and weapons to other players without the fear of being scammed.
Lastly, in games, you may be able to access premium content in these games in the forms of different levels of the game or even attend live performances. Right now, if you buy this premium content you are stuck with it but with NFTs you can resell it to other gamers.
NFTs and Tourism
One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic was the closure of public facilities like museums, zoos, aquariums, and art galleries and other tourist locations. With these facilities struggling to make money, NFTS may be the answer to their financial woes. The pandemic has given some tourist destinations the opportunity to open up virtual tours.
While some of these attractions are free, a museum, walking tour, or art gallery can sell admission to these virtual tours through NFTs and then can offer digital mementos and souvenirs such as an image of the Rosetta Stone or the Mona Lisa for a price, giving these cash-strapped institutions another source of income. Another solution could be to offer city-wide tourist passes to multiple attractions such as some cities already do. These types of complex virtual tours make sense to be sold on an NFT platform.
Right now, most NFTs are issued using Ethereum blockchain which is having trouble scaling and at the moment transaction fees are still pretty high. There are other blockchains like Polkadot that allow more diverse transfers and are more scalable which might make more sense as NFTs become more popular. If you are buying a piece of artwork for $10,000 then a $15 transaction fee isn’t the biggest deal but if you’re buying a $15 ticket to a virtual museum, then it becomes expensive.
While NFT technology is not quite there just yet —the same as VR and AR wasn’t quite there in the mid 90s— there are some exciting possibilities. NFTs are not going away any time soon and will be extremely useful in certain industries that can benefit and even amplify the technology already used to make it more beneficial to the public.