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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ennis

Eye on AI - November 5th, 2021

Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!


This week, our focus returns to the virtual world, with a look at how Nike is repositioning itself for the coming of the metaverse, and a new virtual reality app that its developers hope will soon make email fun again.


Nike Makes Big Moves to Protect Digital Assets Inside the Metaverse

Back in September, when we first posted that Facebook and others were looking to build a new virtual world called the metaverse, the concept seemed almost too futuristic to be taken seriously. Fast forward two months and on major rebranding, and it now feels as if the metaverse is almost at our doorstep. And with news this week that Nike filed seven trademarks for their ‘digital assets’ in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), as detailed in the article “Nike Files to Trademark ‘Virtual Goods’; Hiring Metaverse Designers”, we may be getting a preview of how brands will soon be positioning themselves for the digital future.

“One of the sections identified trademark protection as downloadable ‘virtual goods, namely, computer programs featuring footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories for use online and in online virtual worlds,’” writes Blockworks contributor Jacquelyn Melinek.

To better understand why these trademarks are important, let’s take a high-level look at aspects of the metaverse that could alter the future of branding. First, there is Virtual reality or VR. While VR was originally linked to the gaming community, with a few applications for virtual training, Facebook, Google and others recognized VR’s potential in assisting in the creation of a new virtual world (i.e. the metaverse). Second Life was one such metaverse attempt, though at the time of its creation the technology wasn’t quite there to develop a viable digital world. Through advances in VR, AI, and other virtual arenas, the creation of a functional metaverse now seems very possible. Facebook’s ‘Meta’ rebranding only reinforces that idea.

NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, are the second major piece to this puzzle. NFTs act as certificates of authenticity for virtual assets that can be utilized to sell digital goods online and, more importantly, within the future metaverse. It’s thought that within the metaverse, users will be able to virtually purchase or exchange digital assets, which means NFTs could play a much larger role in commerce if a metaverse is successfully created. Nike’s patents point to just how seriously they are taking the creation of a metaverse.

But Nike isn’t just filing virtual patents. It’s also potentially looking into the creation of virtual worlds within the metaverse, much like an app running through Facebook.

“Separately, Nike is hiring four virtual material designers, according to job postings by the company… The positions will play a role ‘in redefining our digital world, ushering us into the metaverse and growing our team’s capabilities,’ [read the announcement]”

These actions by Nike are a much bigger deal than they seem on paper, as they foreshadow the potential of a major virtual branding shift in anticipation of the metaverse. My recommendation: follow Nike’s example and look for ways to capitalize on the coming virtual shift. The metaverse is moving quick. If you’re a brand, don’t blink, or you might miss it.

New VR App ‘Spike’ Looks to Make Emailing Fun Again

Speaking of virtual reality, a company called Spike has created the first conversational email client made for the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset. Rather than wading through countless emails through the computer, Spike users can pop on their VR headsets and be transported into a virtual world as they sift through emails within a calming virtual environment.

“The Oculus isn't made for multi-tasking, and when you are trying to crank through email responses, that can be an advantage,” writes Lifewire contributor Sascha Brodsky. “I was much more productive spending half an hour alone with my inbox rather than checking it constantly throughout the day… Using web-based email programs in the browser is possible, but it's a far more awkward experience.”

Spike’s interface is fairly intuitive and includes calendar organization, gif additions, etc. Rather than listening to me ramble on about its benefits, I recommend checking out the video in the link above to see the tool in action.

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