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Lowe’s expands into the metaverse with a tool to help visualize projects

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Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowe’s

It seems like every company is getting into the metaverse these days. Lowe’s doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to use it to help builders imagine projects. 

But unlike other retailers that chose a particular virtual platform or game like Fortnite or Roblox, Lowe’s metaverse assets – including free downloads of 500 product assets, including items such as chairs – are available on its own hub.

“It’s all emerging, and it’s all up for exploration,” Lowe’s executive vice president and chief brand and marketing officer Marisa Thalberg told CNBC in an exclusive interview. The retailer decided not to choose one metaverse platform but rather “a kind of an agnostic and kind of democratized approach,” she said.

While other brands have found immediate ways to make money in the metaverse, even on an experimental basis, Thalberg said “this isn’t about immediately jumping in and trying to make an event or immediately commoditizing it.”

Rather, she told CNBC, “our goal really is to take this new frontier and help people use their imaginations and help them make their virtual spaces as exciting and inspirational and enjoyable as their real world spaces. And that’s the only benefit we seek to obtain at this point.”

At least that’s the only stated benefit. As the first major home improvement retailer to enter the metaverse and make its applicable assets available for free, no doubt a key goal is watching consumer behavior to eventually capitalize on the opportunity that might exist. The assets are based on real products the company currently sells online and in its stores. 

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowe’s

Analysts see a big breakthrough coming for the metaverse. By 2026, a quarter of consumers will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse, said consulting and research firm Gartner estimates. Morgan Stanley estimates the total addressable market for advertising and e-commerce opportunities could be worth $8.3 trillion in the metaverse, with $697 billion in home and home related spending. The firm lists walking through “home renovation plans” as an example.

“Just last year, it was estimated that about $100 billion were spent on virtual goods inside gaming platforms. That doesn’t even include NFTs,” said Futures Intelligence Group CEO and chief metaverse officer Cathy Hackl.

Metaverse participants have, in some cases, already paid thousands of dollars for unique non-fungible tokens to outfit aviators from luxury and fashion brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren. Gucci saw 19 million visitors to its Gucci Garden on Roblox. Dolce & Gabbana sold an NFT called “The Glass Suit,” with an accompanying physical garment, for over $1 million.

For its part, Lowe’s is releasing a free, limited NFT collection of boots, hardhats and other related accessories for builders on the Decentraland platform to the first 1,000 participants.

Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s executive vice president and chief information officer, told CNBC in an exclusive interview the retailer is applying many of the principles it currently uses for shoppers for this metaverse project.

“What we have noticed in our current mediums like Lowes.com and in our stores … people like to experiment and while they’re shopping and getting inspired they like to put things together in the virtual world before they start their project,” she said. “It’s the same idea for the metaverse. That you want them to experiment, feel and understand how it’s going to look before they start the project in the real world.” 

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowe’s

Godbole said many of these metaverse assets had already been created as 3D digital versions of physical products available for purchase, to help online shoppers visualize the real-life dimensions and features. Lowe’s is already using virtual and augmented reality technology to allow shoppers to design an entire kitchen online or map their home’s floor plan using their smartphone as examples.

“There is just a huge appetite from our customers to use emerging technology” like the VR and AR tools Godbole said. “We are applying some of those lessons in the metaverse.”

Right now, Lowe’s isn’t offering a physical good with the purchase of a virtual one, or any link back to its website from any metaverse platforms, Godbole said. But that could change.

“In the future, we could absolutely think about, how do all these different things link, and make sure that [metaverse users] are able to shop these items on Lowe’s dot com or in our stores,” she said.

Thalberg acknowledged that the typical metaverse participant “skews really young,” likely younger than the typical Lowe’s shopper or homeowner today.

“But if you look at kids who’ve used platforms like Minecraft and Roblox, a lot of what they do there, is fascinatingly enough, build and design. This idea of being able to build and decorate and design and improve is kind of core to how these spaces are emerging,” she said. “And so if we catch them young, that’s great, but we see a real utility too, as we look to a huge wave of millennial new homeowners who aren’t afraid of technology.”



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Metaverse

Where Does Education Fit in an Emerging Metaverse?

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Meta—the company formerly known as Facebook—is running a new TV ad showing a future in which college students slip on a lightweight VR headset to enter a lecture hall where a professor can toss 3D models of biological cells to students who can pull them apart to demonstrate some concept.

It’s the latest sign that Big Tech sees education as a key piece of the rush to build a metaverse, the immersive Internet of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality that so far is a disconnected mix of clunky tech gear and beta software platforms inspired by science fiction.

This technology raises lots of exciting possibilities and some tough challenges, for both K12 classrooms and college classrooms of the future. And to help us sort through this emerging space, we invited two guests to the podcast who have seen more of this VR space than most and are thinking through these issues.

Those guests are Greg Heiberger, associate dean of academics and student success at South Dakota State University and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and a co-author of a recent Brookings Institution policy brief about education in the metaverse with advice for Facebook and other tech giants on how to build a metaverse that is education friendly.

The session was recorded in front of a live audience at the ISTE Live edtech conference in New Orleans this week.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.



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What is the future of life in the metaverse?

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Online avatars are essentially anonymous, and there’s a real question as to whether a crime committed in a virtual world has consequences in the real world.



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KPMG enters the metaverse, invests $30M in Web3 employee training

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KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms in Canada and the United States, has revealed the opening of its first metaverse collaboration hub to help its employees and clients pursue growth opportunities in the digital era.

KPMG is entering the metaverse with a new collaboration hub that will connect employees, clients and others with Web3. The company is making a collective $30 million investment this year in Web3 experiences, with the metaverse hub as the “signature piece.”

According to a Tuesday report by Fortune, the hub will be focused on education, collaboration, training, events and workshops with Cliff Justice, KPMG U.S. leader of enterprise innovation claiming that it is presently being utilized for such things but that KPMG intends to hire people to build it and expand it over time.

The long-term objective for the company is to examine other potential metaverse use cases such as health care, consumer, retail, media and financial services.

Laura Newinski, deputy chair and chief operating officer at KPMG in the U.S., said:

“The metaverse is a market opportunity, a way to re-engage talent, and a path to connect people across the globe through a new collaborative experience.”

The companies will continue to explore possibilities in the crypto and Web 3.0 space, co-create new tools and solutions that provide critical insights, launch immersive learning and development platforms, recruit talent to contribute knowledge and help navigate the changing confluence of the physical and digital worlds, among other things, as part of its innovation strategy.

Related: Yahoo launching Metaverse events for Hong Kong residents under restrictions

The COVID-19 epidemic sparked people’s interest in the metaverse. There has been an increase in the desire for methods to make internet contact more lifelike as more individuals work and go to school online. JPMorgan, one of the biggest banks in the United States, made headlines earlier this year by publishing a paper suggesting metaverse technology was a “one trillion-dollar opportunity,” along with establishing its own virtual headquarters in the Decentraland (MANA) metaverse.