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Metaverse June 25, 2022

Lowe’s increases its metaverse offerings

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Lowe‘s wants to help builders visualize projects with it; Lowe’s metaverse assets, including free downloads of 500 product assets like chairs, are available on its own hub.

Lowe’s EVP and CMO Marisa Thalberg told media, “It’s all developing and up for exploration.” The shop chose “neutral and democratized” metaverse platforms, she said. She continued, “Our goal is to let individuals utilize their imaginations to make their virtual spaces as fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining as their real world spaces.” And that’s all we want.”

Metaverse members have paid thousands for non-fungible tokens to outfit aviators from Gucci, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, and Ralph Lauren. Gucci’s Roblox garden had 19 million visits. Dolce & Gabbana sold “The Glass Suit” NFT for $1 million.

Lowe’s will provide the first 1,000 Decentraland participants a limited NFT collection of boots, hardhats, and other accoutrements

Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s EVP and CIO, said CNBC the retailer is bringing many of the concepts it applies for shoppers to the metaverse initiative.

“While shopping and becoming inspired, individuals want to put things together in the virtual world before starting their project,” she said. “Metaverse is the same. You want them to experience, feel, and comprehend before starting the real project.”

Godbole said many metaverse assets were built as 3D digital copies of tangible objects to assist online customers visualize real-life dimensions and characteristics. Lowe’s uses virtual and augmented reality to let shoppers design a kitchen online or map their home’s floor plan using a smartphone. “Our customers want to use VR and AR” said Godbole. “We’re applying some metaverse lessons”

Lowe’s doesn’t offer a physical good with a virtual one or a connection to its website from metaverse platforms, Godbole added. This may change.

“In the future, we could think about how all these things link and make sure metaverse users can shop these items on Lowe’s.com or in our stores,” she said.

Thalberg said the average metaverse player is “very young,” younger than the average Lowe’s customer or homeowner.

“Kids who use Minecraft and Roblox build and design a lot, which is intriguing. This idea of being able to construct, decorate, design, and develop is key, she said. We see a tremendous wave of millennial new homeowners who aren’t afraid of technology, so catching them young is wonderful.

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Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.

Education

Give Exams, Interviews Remotely in Metaverse

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Give Exams, Interviews Remotely in Metaverse
The future of job search?

The Metaverse is rapidly being adopted worldwide, as businesses display their showcases with immersive experiences and students attend classes in virtual reality. Likewise, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced the launch of a Metaverse for specialists and consultants to give exams and interviews remotely, Khaleej Times reported.

Also read: Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education

The 3D Digital Metaverse Assessment Service brings together the real, virtual, and digital worlds to improve the delivery of healthcare services provided by both government and private organizations.

Metaverse will be used to support medical exams of healthcare professionals like consultants and specialists while they are in their own country, Khaleej Times cited Dr Amin Hussein AL Amiri, assistant undersecretary fot the MoHAP.

“For example, if the doctor is in Australia or any other country and we have three examiners in different locations in UAE, they all will log in to metaverse and start the exam. The three doctors in the UAE will be in their own healthcare facilities, but they will be together as panellists in the metaverse,” said AL Amiri.

Cheating Will Be Monitored

AL Amiri believes the use of metaverse in the examination and interviews will could not be cheated as facial expression and eye movement will be monitored of the examinee.

“The examiners would monitor the movement of the face and eyes using artificial intelligence to figure out if he is trying to get support from someone and looking at papers in any direction. This will help avoid any sort of external support and cheating,” said Al Amiri.

This MoHAP step will provide the flexibility of performing such essential tasks from home rather having to travel to the UAE for such tasks alone.

For more than eight years, the UAE has been administering electronic exams to healthcare professionals, but few of them have had to travel to the UAE for interviews. However, the launch of the metaverse as a platform for examinations and interviews will benefit such professionals.

“We saw a need to expand metaverse to help healthcare professionals and decided to use it for exams and interviews,” he said, adding that this new technology will be implemented next Monday.

Al Amiri also shared that the ministry already used metaverse for customer service and had succeeded in improving customer happiness before.

Metaverse in Education

This step toward the use of the metaverse in the academic sector is not completely new, as it is already taking shape within various aspects of institutions.

As previously reported by Metanews, this immersive experience has become the solution for class absentees in Japan.

The Metaverse offers a unique experience for its users, allowing them to interact and communicate with others through avatars. This virtual environment provides a more immersive and personal experience compared to traditional communication platforms like Zoom and Teams.

Having such features, the metaverse provided the opportunity for students to attend school classes from the comfort of their own homes and was highly effective. Currently, it is being used for exams and interviews to support healthcare professionals, but its uses are not limited to just the medical field.

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Business

Quest 3 Headset Will Have Better Mixed Reality Tech

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Quest 3 Headset Will Have Better Mixed Reality Tech, says Zuckerberg
Artist's rendering.

Meta, keen to be a Metaverse giant, plans to launch virtual reality headset Quest 3 later this year, with better mixed reality technology, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta confirmed that the release should be called Meta Quest 3. It’s expected to cost between US$300 and US$500, which is about a third of the Quest Pro (the Quest Pro is currently priced at $1,499.99).

Also read: Meta Employees Undermine Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Strategy

The new headset will provide support for Meta Reality, which is technology that enables virtual reality headsets to also be used for augmented reality. This technology allows devices to create mixed reality experiences.

Meta Reality in Next-Gen Consumer Headset

The mixed reality ecosystem is relatively new, but Zuckerberg thinks it’s going to grow a lot in the next few years.

“Later this year, we’re going to launch our next generation consumer headset, which will feature Meta Reality as well, and I expect that this is going to establish this technology as the baseline for all headsets going forward, and eventually of course for AR glasses as well,” said Zuckerberg.

Beyond MR, the broader VR ecosystem continues growing. There are now over 200 apps on Meta’s VR devices that have made more than $1 million in revenue, Zuckerberg said.

How Meta Reality will look in more affordable headsets is yet to be clear.

Meta’s Reported Win over FTC will be Crucial

Meta has reportedly won court approval earlier this week to acquire VR fitness app Supernatural’s maker, Within, which will be a huge boost for Zuckerberg’s ambitious metaverse project.

Meta’s plan was to acquire Within and Supernatural back in October 2021, but it was blocked by the FTC’s complaint file to stop the deal. The FTC’s complaint was justified by saying Meta already owns a “virtual reality empire.”

Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 is arguably the best VR headset, even after a massive hike in its price last year.

“There is a lot of work there that we haven’t actually shipped the product yet. VR, which is starting to ramp, right, Quest 2, I think, did quite well. We have multiple product lines there with the Quest Pro,” said Zuckerberg about Quest 3.

When Meta shipped Quest Pro at the end of last year, it was something their CEO was “really proud of” and believed it was the first mainstream mixed reality device to set the standard for the industry with Meta Reality.

“As always, the reason why we’re focused on building these platforms is to deliver better social experiences than what’s possible today on phones,” said Zuckerberg.

The possible benefit could be expected in Quest 3 through the acquisition of Within.

 

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Metaverse

Interpol Wants to Police Metaverse Crime. But That May Not Be Easy

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Interpol Wants to Police Metaverse Crime. But That May Not Be Easy

The International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, is looking at ways to police crime in the metaverse, according to secretary general Jurgen Stock. However, the agency may find that to be hard in the absence of a universally agreed definition of the “metaverse,” let alone of metaverse crime.

Stock said, “criminals are sophisticated and professional in very quickly adapting to any new technological tool that is available to commit crime. We need to sufficiently respond to that. Sometimes lawmakers, police, and our societies are running a little bit behind.”

“We have seen if we are doing it too late, it already impacts trust in the tools we are using, and therefore the metaverse. In similar platforms that already exist, criminals are using it,” he added, according to the BBC.

Defining the metaverse

The metaverse may be thought of as the idea of a post-physical world in which life is lived virtually on the Internet: “a single, shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space” where humans experience life in ways they could not in the real world.

Also read: Is the World Ready for Music Concerts in the Metaverse?

American author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term “metaverse” in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. He referred to the metaverse as an all-encompassing digital world that exists parallel to the real world.

However, the word gained significance when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of the social media company to “Meta” in 2021, a rebrand that focused on building the metaverse.

While at this point users are already utilizing a range of hardware such as headsets to gain access to the immersive experiences of the metaverse, there’s still no universally agreed definition of the metaverse. Much less of metaverse crime.

What does metaverse crime look like for Interpol?

The building blocks of the new form of communication are still being laid down. Anyone can build their own metaverse and define how that specific digital world works. Interpol has now built its own virtual reality (VR) space in order to catch up with criminals operating in the metaverse.

The VR unit is aimed at helping its officers with training for virtual interactions. Announcing the launch of the virtual reality metaverse last October, Interpol said:

“As the number of metaverse users grows and the technology further develops, the list of possible crimes will only expand to potentially include crimes against children, data theft, money laundering, financial fraud, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, and sexual assault and harassment.”

Interpol is still having a hard time defining metaverse crime. Madan Oberoi, the executive director of technology and innovation at Interpol, admitted to the BBC that “there are crimes where I don’t know whether it can still be called a crime or not.”

“For example, there have been reported cases of sexual harassment,” he said. “If you look at the definitions of these crimes in physical space, and you try to apply it in the metaverse, there is a difficulty.”

“We don’t know whether we can call them a crime or not, but those threats are definitely there, so those issues are yet to be resolved,” he added.

Oberoi said law enforcement needed to “know about the metaverse” in order to “help people who have been hurt in the metaverse.” It is one of Interpol’s objectives, he explained, “to make sure law enforcement personnel start using the metaverse and they become aware.”

Uphill task

Alex Kim, chief monetization officer at XR platform Sensorium Galaxy, said while discussions around metaverse regulation may help create “safe digital environments” for users, there is still need to strike a balance in implementation.

“The metaverse is being envisioned as a decentralized platform over which no central authority has control over,” Kim told MetaNews.

“This begs the question of who exactly should be tasked with monitoring the metaverse and what powers can this entity potentially have, and over what and whom.” Continuing, Kim added:

“It’s clear that policing the metaverse won’t be as straightforward as some might be hoping, but it’s very positive that the conversation surrounding the topic is moving forward, especially given the rapid pace of current technological developments.”

Software engineer Brandon Church laughed at the idea that the global police agency wanted to play guard to the metaverse.

“[The metaverse] is just an idea at the moment. The problem with ideas is that sometimes they never see the light of day. So these guys [Interpol] are working on policing an idea? I’m seriously wondering [where they are going with this],” Church told MetaNews.

Arseny Myakotnikov, cofounder and CMO of drive-to-earn Metadrive, believes the Interpol initiative goes against the ethos of decentralization, a key foundational principle of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, and Web3.

“Each metaverse must exist as a separate digital universe, where investors would be able to set their own rules and regulations based on the weight of their votes through decentralized voting within the project’s DAO,” he says

“It’s important to stress that most of the violations mentioned by the Interpol cannot be committed at the current stage of metaverse technology development.”

Interpol is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. It was created 100 years ago and is made of 195 member countries.

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