As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, opportunities to experience something in real life are decreasing. For example, the experience of travelling to different places, meeting people face-to-face, or attending a sports game or a live music concert are all examples of things we are still unable to do as we used to do pre-pandemic.
Two years have passed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and the virtual space has developed significantly compared to previous decades. In addition, the virtual space has enabled new experiences, such as online meetings, live broadcasts of events, and online sales that are similar to in-person sales.
For better experiences, there is a growing need to express one’s real self in digital space. A digital twin is being realized, connecting the real self with the self in virtual space through avatars.
This article introduces the world in which avatars are active and the NFTs that support this world.
2. What is the world in which avatars are active?
Avatar means “alter ego” in Japanese. It is a person’s alter ego in a virtual space. Avatars have always existed in services on the Internet, but recently their use in virtual spaces is becoming closer to real-life experiences. For example, the following are some of the uses.
Example 1: Virtual office
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are fewer opportunities to work face-to-face in an office, and each person works separately in a telework environment. Even though there are opportunities to meet face-to-face in online meetings, etc., less information is available compared to when they had met in an actual situation.
To solve this problem, mechanisms are being created that allow people to obtain the same amount of online information they can get in person. By using avatars, we are beginning to understand people’s behavior as we would in a face-to-face discussion. In the future, online business card exchanges will be conducted through avatars, just as business cards are exchanged in real life.
Example 2: Virtual stadiums
When watching a sports game, people look for an experience where they are not just watching a video streamed online, but are also cheering along with the people around them. For example, at a baseball stadium, the view of the player’s changes depending on your seat; you can high-five the people around you when you hit a home run. There have been efforts to bring the experience closer to what you can experience in real life. It will be important to have a mechanism where avatars can freely tour the stadium, purchase cheering merchandise at concession stands, and not only cheer virtually, but also have those goods delivered to them in real life.
Example 3: Virtual live performance
Similar to virtual stadiums, fans will be able to interact with each other and purchase merchandise from the performers in the virtual space. Also important are admission ticket stubs that can be used to recall the live performance later. This will lead to behavior such as showing each other proof of participation in the live concert when interacting with fellow fans in real life.
Figure 1: Avatar moving in virtual space
Thus, it is expected that it will become important not only to access a virtual space, but also to leave behind evidence of one’s behavior in that space for subsequent activities. And these proofs will be managed by oneself, just as in the real world.
The mechanism to use digital tokens as proof of behavior at this time will be important. In particular, we will be using NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens: Non Substitutable Tokens, proof of uniqueness in the digital space).
3. What is NFT supporting avatar?
NFTs are treated as certificates of rights in the digital space, and information management is performed on Blockchain. Taking advantage of the tamper-resistance characteristics of Blockchain technology, it is now possible to clarify who holds the rights.
Originally used as a mechanism for distributing items in online games, its use spread rapidly in 2021 to distribute ownership of digital content. Although only speculative purposes were the focus of attention when its use first spread, its application to a variety of uses is gradually beginning to be considered. The application of NFT to avatars is one such example.
For example, it can be used to dress up avatars. Until now, people have expressed themselves on social networking services by displaying their avatars along with their self-introductions and dressing them up in various outfits. However, these avatars could only be used to express themselves on social networking, and it was difficult to use them for other purposes.
Therefore, clothing for avatars is beginning to be managed by NFTs. Clothes purchased in virtual spaces and NFTs can be managed in one’s virtual closet and coordinated according to the virtual space. The information on the clothes is certified by NFTs, so that the garments can be coordinated in any virtual space.
Clothes purchased in virtual space will also be available in real life by specifying the appropriate size. This allows people to express the same self in both real and virtual space, creating a digital twin.
Additionally, NFT will be applied to information such as virtual event certificates and experiences.
The more spaces that avatars can be active in, the closer or a very similar experience they will have in real life.
Figure 2: Virtual space and NFT
This article introduces a world in which virtual space becomes more realistic by combining avatars and NFT. In order to realize these virtual worlds, it is important to develop not only NFT but also technologies such as 5G communication technology and devices. It is also important for avatars to be accepted in various virtual spaces.
In the near future, people around the world may be able to have many experiences in a wide variety of virtual spaces through avatars.