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Metaverse February 21, 2022

Salesforce NFT development halted due to lack of regulation

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Salesforce announced last week that it was looking into a number of NFT initiatives, including a “NFT Cloud”. Which would allow enterprises all over the world to build and trade NFTs.

Hundreds of Salesforce employees from all over the world are protesting the company’s plans to enter the non-fungible token market.

After the company’s announcement, more than 400 employees signed an open letter. Which expanded through internal communications channels.

Addressed to Salesforce’s co-CEOs, the concerns about the environmental and economic consequences of NFTs are showing. Which it refers to as “unregulated and highly speculative financial assets.”

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According to market tracker DappRadar, the NFT market has grown in the last year, with revenues surpassing $24.9 billion in 2021. Up from just under $95 million the year before.

Celebrities are increasingly purchasing and creating their own NFTs, as are companies such as Pepsi, Universal Music… Or the National Basketball Association.

NFTs have previously been condemned for their environmental impact. As well as their capacity to encourage dangerous speculation and fraud protection.

If NFT’s plan goes through, one Salesforce employee who signed the letter has threatened to leave. “I will locate a company that lives up to its stated ideals,” he told media.

In internal talks, some employees were surprised that the plans were publicized just as Salesforce was airing a major Super Bowl commercial with actor Matthew McConaughey praising the company’s dedication to sustainability.

Other employees backed the concept, claiming that Salesforce could assist responsibly create the NFT ecosystem. As well as guiding its customers in this new market.

Furthermore, in an email, a Salesforce spokeswoman stated that; “Everything we do, including product development, follows our fundamental principles”. “We value employee feedback and take pleasure in cultivating a culture of trust that allows people to share a variety of viewpoints.”

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Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.

Metaverse

The Weekly Metaverse Review: Apple Cancels, Microsoft turns to Mesh, Tokens Go Up

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The Weekly Metaverse Review: Apple Cancels, Microsoft turns to Mesh, Tokens Go Up
The newsweek in the Metaverse, according to Midjourney AI.

MetaNews picks through another week of Metaverse hype with equal amounts of hope and skepticism as we chart a path through difficult waters to our brave new virtual world.

Here are the stories that made landfall this week on the metaverse review.

Canceled Apple of my eye

This week Apple announced that its mixed-reality headset will arrive as promised, but its follow-up product – Apple Glass – has been suspended indefinitely.

Apple Glass was originally scheduled for 2023 before being delayed to 2025. The company has now kicked the product into the long grass. Goodbye Apple Glass.

Apple will now seek to bring a less expensive, but not widely affordable, product to market in the nearer term. Apple’s premium mixed-reality device is set to cost $3,000. The less expensive option will look to compete with Meta’s mixed-reality device which retails for $1,500.

Metaverse hype counterproductive

Regular readers of MetaNews will know that there is no shortage of hype to be found in the metaverse and with metaverse-related topics.

With that hype comes raised expectations, which are sometimes difficult to meet in the shorter term. Alexandra Kuzmina, innovation consultant at Nova MMR, summed up the phenomenon in a panel session for The Market Research Society’s (MRS) Metaverse conference earlier this month.

“There has been no shortage of hype,” admitted Kuzmina as reported by ResearchLive on Thursday. “It is important to remind ourselves that what we see currently are only the fragments of what eventually will become the metaverse. There is a tendency today to believe the fragments, such as VR and augmented reality, are actually the metaverse.”

As for what happens when those fragments coalesce, Kuzmina went on to add, “I wouldn’t bet against the metaverse dream just yet.”

A real Microsoft Mesh

Software giant Microsoft has been making great progress in the field of artificial intelligence lately, but in virtual reality and the metaverse it appears to be doing less well.

The company has announced it plans to close its AltspaceVR and Mixed Reality Tool Kit, as part of a company-wide cost-cutting exercise that will see the company shed 10,000 jobs.

The news comes just one week after Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stated, “I don’t think Web3 was that big or that Metaverse stuff alone was revolutionary, but AI is quite revolutionary.”

AltspaceVR is hardly a landmark product for Microsoft. The VR firm was acquired in 2017 for an undisclosed fee after falling into difficulties, and the change of management seems to have done little to turn things around.

Microsoft now plans to ‘sunset’ – corporate speak for shut down – the platform on March 10. Those AltspaceVR staff lucky enough to hold on to their jobs will be folded into the team bringing Microsoft Mesh, the company’s new VR and videoconferencing product, to market.

Should Mesh ever become successful perhaps Gates will change opinion on which technologies he is willing to consider revolutionary.

The Weekly Metaverse Review: Apple Cancels, Microsoft turns to Mesh, Tokens Go Up

Decentraland (MANA) is among the metaverse tokens doing well (Source: CoinGecko)

MANA, SAND, RBLX perform well

Crypto-metaverse projects have performed well over the course of January with the Decentraland (MANA) token at $0.662239, up 105.7% over the previous 30 days, and Sandbox (SAND) at $0.727717, up 65.6% over the same period.

Outside of the cryptosphere, the Roblox (RBLX) share price now stands at $35.97, up 36.6% on the month. That’s seriously good price action for an industry that mainstream media outlets continually write off.

My brain is my weapon

Twitch streamer Perri Karyal has posted videos showing using a brain wave (EEG) interface to control her character in the popular role-playing game Elden Ring.

It’s the sort of claim that provokes curiosity and skepticism in equal measure, even if Karyal does seem genuine. Controlling computerized avatars through brainwave interfaces is the subject of ongoing experimentation, but so far, the level of control remains limited.

Fortnite to lead the charge, maybe

A recent survey conducted by Game Developers Conference (GDC) found that game developers have most confidence in Epic Games to deliver the Metaverse. Of the 2,300 respondents to the poll, 14% believe that Fortnite’s creators will charge to victory in the sector.

Of the runners up Meta and Microsoft took joint second position with 7% of the vote each, while Roblox claimed 5%. Google and Apple both received a paltry 3% of the vote.

The survey also found that 45% of respondents believe the metaverse “will never deliver on its promise,” but respondents also confessed to being unclear about what that promise is. 

With that level of confusion, perhaps the survey results can be taken with a significant grain of salt.

Metaverse for mental health?

Interacting with a metaverse avatar may help some people to better cope with social anxiety, or to interact with others. It could also overcome issues of accessibility and affordability according to Psychology Today.

Mental health practitioners are now looking into the potential benefits of breakthrough technologies, but caution is warranted in this highly sensitive field. A recent experiment that leveraged the ChatGPT AI in mental health support at first seemed to yield positive results but ended badly.

On that note, it’s time to call an end to another weekly metaverse round-up. Join us throughout the week for more metaverse and technology-related news.

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Cryptocurrencies

AI and Big Data Tokens Are Exploding with Fetch.ai (FET) Soaring More than 200%

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AI and Big Data Tokens Are Exploding with Fetch.ai (FET) Soaring More than 200%
Fetch.ai are among the current winners.

AI and Big Data tokens have joined metaverse tokens and industry-related cryptocurrencies to spike substantially in price. Among the hundreds of AI and Big Data tokens in the market, Fetch.ai (FET), Ocean Protocol (OCEAN), and The Graph (GRT) have brought awesome gains to their holders in the first three weeks of January. 

Fetch.ai (FET) has soared more than 200% 

Fetch.ai was created in 2017 as an AI laboratory that builds open, decentralized, and permissionless machine learning networks within the crypto economy. 

After shedding more than 80% of its value in 2022 due to an industry-wide bloodbath that wiped off more than $2 trillion from the crypto market, FET rebounded strongly in 2023. 

After opening the year on Jan. 1 with a trading price of $0.09166, the coin reached a monthly low of $0.09041 on Jan. 2. On Jan. 13, Binance announced the launch of FET/USDT Perpetual Contracts across multiple margin assets. The largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume followed this up by opening trading for FET/TRY (Turkish Lira) on Jan. 26. On Jan. 17, another exchange Bitrue also listed FET/USDT on its futures platform. In the crypto space, staking, the adoption of a crypto asset by a mainstream institution as well as token listing by reputable exchanges (in this case Binance and Bitrue) are major drivers of price. 

The listing of the coin led to it reaching a monthly and yearly high of $0.3045 on Jan. 23. After seeing a low daily volume of $5.5 million, increased demand for the coin on the more than 30 exchanges that supports it led to the new high daily volume of $170 million

In the process, FETs market capitalization has risen by 232% from $75 million on its opening day to over $230 million

AI and Big Data Tokens Are Exploding with Fetch.ai (FET) Soaring More than 200%

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Ocean Protocol (OCEAN) spiked over 130% due to the Hackathon progress

As a blockchain-based ecosystem that allows individuals and businesses to unlock the value of their data and monetize it via the use of Ethereum-based tokens, OCEAN has benefitted immensely from the cryptocurrency market rebound of 2023. 

Ocean has built on top of several mainstream blockchains in the industry and the highlight was when it partnered with Moonbeam Network on Polkadot to allow stakeholders of the Polkadot ecosystem to buy, stake, and publish data. 

OCEAN, like more than 90% of cryptocurrencies shed around 80% of its value in 2022 after opening and closing the year at $0.8586 and $0.1633 respectively. OCEAN opened 2023 with a price of $0.1633, reached a monthly low of $0.1592 on Jan. 2, and since that day, the token has benefitted from the Data Builders Hackathon the Ocean Foundation launched with Gitcoin which launched on Jan. 5 and it’s slated to end by the end of the month. Through this Hackathon, $40,000 in bounties will be shared among participants. 

OCEAN tested a monthly high of $0.3834 on Jan. 24 after seeing its least daily volume rise from $6.6 million to the highest of $143 million

Within 25 days, OCEAN’s price ascended by 134% which increased its market value from $100 million to more than $220 million

AI and Big Data Tokens Are Exploding with Fetch.ai (FET) Soaring More than 200%

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The Graph (GRT) is increasing due to positive market sentiment 

As an indexing protocol for querying data for networks like Ethereum, The Graph has helped power many applications in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space and the broader Web3 ecosystem. 

Renewed interest in cryptocurrency coupled with the awarding of funds to hackers by The Graph Foundation to build bold new decentralized applications (dApps) with sub-graphs has contributed to GRTs price spike. GRT, which is the novel token of the Graph lost 91% of its value in 2022. The token has impressed so far in 2023 recouping more than 70% of investor losses after opening at $0.05538 and reaching a monthly high of $0.0963 on Jan. 24. The significant rise in daily volume from $9 million to $86 million has also led to a rapid rise in market capitalization from $493 million to over $800 million

AI and Big Data Tokens Are Exploding with Fetch.ai (FET) Soaring More than 200%

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Other AI and Big Data coins and tokens that have spiked in value include, but are not limited to, Singularity NET (AGIX), Phala Network (PHA), Phoenix (PHB), and Covalent (CQT), Alliance Block (ALBT).

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Business

Apple VR Glass Won’t Come Anytime Soon, Firm Plans Cheaper MR Headset

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Apple VR Glass Won’t Come Anytime Soon, Firm Plans Cheaper MR Headset

The market can expect to get hold of the much awaited Apple mixed reality headset this year, but the tech giant has shelved its planned follow up product – the Apple Augmented Reality (AR) glasses due to technical challenges.

Apple had originally planned to release the AR glasses dubbed the Apple Glass after the mixed reality headset hit the market, which combines both the AR and virtual reality (VR). That part of the plan has now been put on hold.

Also read: Microsoft CEO Talked Up Metaverse at WEF as Firm Shut Down VR Metaverse Unit

The Apple Glass were originally scheduled for release this year before delaying them until 2025, but now the product has been delayed indefinitely.

Bloomberg reports that the company now wants to follow up with a lower-cost version of mixed reality headset as soon as 2024 or early 2025, according to sources close to the developments.

Although the mixed reality headset is expected to cost around $3 000, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to follow up with a lower cost mixed reality headset that cost around $1 500.

In December, Apple-focused supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimated the group would ship its mixed reality headset during the second half of 2023 and not the second quarter citing software related issues for the delay.

The lightweight AR kit is like traditional glasses and is smaller as well as more complex to manufacture.

According to Mark Gurman’s Power On Newsletter, Apple had until recently planned to unveil the headset this month, but has pushed back the event to its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

Last year there was also speculation the tech giant could unveil the headset at the WWDC 2022.

The cost factor

Bloomberg says high cost could make Apple headset pricey for the market and make them a niche product.

The initial mixed reality device due this year will cost $3 000. The supposedly high price is a result of its use of advanced and high-resolution displays, more than 10 cameras, sensors to determine where a user is looking, and both a Mac-grade M2 processor and a dedicated chip for handling AR and VR visuals.

Now Apple may be considering lowering the price of the follow-up mixed reality device by using chips on par with those on the iPhone rather than components found in higher-end Mac computers

Apple brings competition to Meta

Apple will be competing with Meta’s mixed reality headset which costs $1 500, a price that Apple may strive to get closer to with its lower end model.

The mixed reality headset combines elements of augment reality and virtual reality, with components including eyeball tracking, multiple cameras, pancake optics and lenses.

AR users see world through a lens that is overlaid with digital images and data. VR on the other hand, such as Meta’s Oculus, encloses users in a digital world.

VR headsets are the cutting edge of consumer technology right now and Meta, Google and other big tech companies have been eyeing the space for years now, so it’s not surprising that Apple wants to be involved too.

Bloomberg however says the shifting plan underscore the challenges Apple faces pushing into the new industry as its dreams of offering a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day now appears many years away — if it happens at all.

But ZDNET says Apple generally has a tendency to wait and watch when it comes to new products rather than be the first to the market. But the question is whether the market for, and consumer interest in VR and AR headsets has actually reached the point at which Apple needs to get involved.

The VR headsets, a market currently dominated by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Incl, offer more immersive experience, with people typically using them to play video games, communicate in virtual meeting rooms and watch video.

In contrast, AR glasses overlay visuals and information on real-world views.

The hope is that users could wear such glasses as they go about a normal day, but earlier attempts at the concept – such as Google Glass – haven’t gained traction.

 

 

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