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The U.S. military is creating and just tested its own metaverse

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The military’s version of a metaverse doesn’t quite align with Mark Zuckerberg and Meta’s vision for a virtual world for us to inhabit.

The U.S. military is creating and just tested its own metaverse 02 | TweakTown.com

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Credit: Red 6

Using augmented reality (AR), two fighter pilots completed a high-altitude drill a few thousand feet high over the desert of California on May 10th. Flying a pair of Berkut 540 jets and donning custom AR headsets, the pilots were shown virtual refueling aircraft in the sky, allowing one of the pilots to practice a refueling maneuver with the virtual aircraft.

The augmented and virtual reality (VR) technology, head-mounted displays and artificial intelligence (AI) powered environments being developed by Red 6 allow pilots to take part in virtual dog fights against enemy aircraft and more while pulling several G’s. Red 6 is developing a platform that will allow them to display various scenarios in AR and VR, while using lower latency and higher reliability hardware than consumer-grade AR and VR headsets.

We can fly against whatever threat we want. And that threat could be controlled either by an individual remotely or by artificial intelligence. What we’re building is really a military metaverse. It’s like a multiplayer video game in the sky,” says Daniel Robinson, founder and CEO of Red 6.

AR and VR have become staples of military training of late in projects like Project Avenger and Project BlueShark. Now, the military is setting its sights on integrating various technologies to create more interconnected virtual systems, and recently held a high-level conference in a virtual environment attended by more than 250 people from across the world.

It is an extremely complex type of simulation, especially given the fidelity that the military demands. You can either have live players who are participating in the simulation or [characters] can be AI-enabled, which is often what the military does,” said Caitlin Dohrman, general manager of the defense division of Improbable, a company that develops virtual world technologies.

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Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg Wants One Billion People Inside the Metaverse

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Meta Chief Mark Zuckerberg revealed in an interview this week that he hopes “around a billion people” will soon be active in the metaverse.

Despite the pandemic spurring an enthusiastic uptake of video conferencing services such as Zoom, and other technologies that create virtual spaces, not everyone is as enthused by metaverse developments.

Meta will continue to innovate in this area, however, and if the rise of Facebook and social media is anything to go by, it might not be long before we’re spending as much time in digital spaces as we are in physical ones.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Virtual Future

Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, Zuckerberg – who is currently the 15th richest person in the world – said that, in the second half of this decade, the metaverse could be a “considerable” part of the company’s business.

“We hope to basically get to around a billion people in the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars of commerce, each buying digital goods, digital content, different things to express themselves,” Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO

Zuckerberg explained that he wants people to spending on “clothing for their avatar or different digital goods for their virtual home or things to decorate their virtual conference room” or even “utilities to be able to be more productive in virtual and augmented reality, and across the metaverse overall.”

Mark and Meta’s Grand Plan – With Rules

This sort of progression away from the relics of Web 2.0 and social media sites – of which Zuckerberg’s first, Facebook, is in sequential decline for the first time in its history – has been a long time coming.

For instance, Meta (which was then Facebook) paid $2 billion for Oculus VR in 2014 – but it didn’t quite take off as planned.

In 2018, however, Oculus executive Jason Rubin sent a 50-page document to the company board claiming that the metaverse was “ours to lose” in the next 10 years. Since then, serious time and money have been plowed into to making the idea come to life.

Other companies are taking it seriously too – Microsoft, Epic Games, Meta, and 33 other companies have formed a group for the metaverse, which will consist of “action-based projects” that support common standards.

Will the Metaverse Catch On? It’s Anyone’s Guess

The debate over whether there truly will be anything near to one billion people in the metaverse in the near future evokes fierce disagreement – and there’s evidence either way.

On the one hand, phenomena like the purchase of virtual land – by both real estate investors, celebrities, and ordinary people – illustrates that digital spaces can be valued in ways that someone a decade ago would never have been able to predict.

Plus, we many people do already spend a lot of time in interactive ‘digital spaces’. We play video games, we surf social media and we video call each other. They aren’t quite as immersive as the metaverse, but would it really be that big of a leap?

Others aren’t so convinced by the hype. “I don’t know if I necessarily buy into this Metaverse stuff, although people talk to me a lot about it” Elon Musk quipped last year, adding that he does not see a future where people want to stay put in the virtual realm.

Will We Ever Do the 9-5 in the Metaverse?

Recent studies of people working in VR environments have seen test subjects drop out due to nausea and anxiety. Physical side effects such as dry eyes, dizziness, tiredness, stiff necks, facial swelling, and skin issues were also recorded in participants, but this was largely put down to the bulky equipment, which still remains an obstacle to widespread participation.

Video conferencing apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, however, have started to incorporate metaverse-like features into their services with more immersive rooms. Microsoft Mesh for Teams for example, allows you to “Connect and collaborate with a feeling of presence through personalized avatars and immersive spaces”, as Microsoft describes it.

Will there be a day when everyone receives a VR headset in the mail, and suddenly, our whole society goes digital? It’s unlikely. Will we start to see more and more applications, software, games, and general life experiences that have “immersive” elements, taking us, for a time, inside the “metaverse”? It certainly looks that way. And if that’s the case now, who knows where we’ll be by 2030.



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Metaverse madness: What brands are doing to cut through the noise

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The marketing news cycle this year has been inundated with announcements from brands around their plans for the metaverse, the nascent idea of a channel that can blend real and virtual worlds seamlessly together. Activations have spanned packaged goods, quick-service restaurants, retail and fashion verticals and made platforms like Decentraland, The Sandbox, Meta’s Horizon Worlds, Fortnite and Roblox into household names (for marketers, at least).

Despite the flurry of activity, many brands have struggled to differentiate their metaverse activations, some of which seem like slapdash efforts thrown together to avoid missing the bandwagon. Still, well-executed plays represent an opportunity for brands to experiment with how they will be able to meet consumer needs in the future, whether it be through ties to real-world rewards, hybrid events or diversity and inclusion initiatives. Nearly six in 10 (59%) consumers are excited about transitioning everyday activities, like shopping and attending events, to the metaverse, with a similar number of metaverse-aware companies (57%) already adopting the concept, according to a new report by McKinsey & Company.

The metaverse is expected to be worth $5 trillion by 2030, per the McKinsey report — despite the fact that it doesn’t really exist yet. That expansion will support growth in e-commerce ($2.6 trillion), advertising ($206 billion) and gaming ($125 billion).

“The metaverse is about creating worlds and experiences that you want to go to, that you’re drawn to,” said Ginny Ziegler, Accenture’s chief marketing officer in North America. “It’s not going to be about better headsets, more realistic visual renderings, faster network speeds, more intelligent engines or the next TikTok or Fortnite… What’s really going to make the metaverse real is the adoption of the experiences that it enables and the propositions that it brings to life.”

Even in this nascent stage, the development of metaverse brand activities are shadowed by the market corrections and crashes impacting related areas including cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens. As with any experimental marketing spend, metaverse activations will face questions over their degree of risk, budget allocation and outcomes. But that doesn’t mean that crashes elsewhere should impede experiments in the metaverse.

“If you’re aligned to the opportunity cost of what you’re going to put into the world, and if you’re actually creating opportunity for the community that you’re there to support, it’s probably a good bet,” said Hall Carlough, vice president and head of creative strategy at Web3 marketing agency Invisible North.

Below, Marketing Dive has gathered some of the most significant brand activations in the metaverse that point to how the space could evolve and meet industry expectations going forward.



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The Weekly Closeout: Nike exits Russia and tech firms unite around the metaverse

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It’s been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week, and what we’re still thinking about.

From the surprise ending to Office Depot’s sale-or-split considerations, to a set of Lord of the Rings-themed candles, here’s our closeout for the week.

What you may have missed

With inclusivity in mind, Thinx rebrands social media, website

In an effort to make the language it uses around periods more gender inclusive, Thinx rebranded its social media handle from @shethinx to @thinx. The brand said the language change will also apply to its website URL soon.

Retrieved from Thinx via Instagram on June 23, 2022

 

“This change is anything but small, and we knew it was necessary and long-overdue,” the company said in its announcement. “As a brand that makes period underwear and creates space for conversations around the realities of menstruation, the importance of gender-inclusive language truly cannot be understated.”

Thinx said the move is in part to help combat the period market that is dominated by feminine-gendered products, which can be isolating for some people, including members of the trans community. Thinx is hoping the language change helps provide a space for all of its customers to feel represented.

“Of course, this is only the beginning: from education to media to access to period products, we still have a long way to go to make sure that all menstruators are represented and supported. But using gender-inclusive language to talk about periods is a first step toward lasting change,” the company said.

Beyond Yoga steps into brick and mortar

Marking its first independent store, Beyond Yoga on Saturday will open a pop-up shop at The Grove in Los Angeles.

“As a Los Angeles-based brand, opening our first pop-up experience at The Grove is a natural first step into retail,” Michelle Wahler, co-founder and CEO of Beyond Yoga, said in a statement. “The space reflects Beyond Yoga’s values and provides us with the opportunity to meet loyal customers while our knowledgeable style experts also introduce new fans to our buttery soft favorites.”

The store, more than six months in the making, will carry products in sizes XXS to 4X. The space will also host community events, including with Bia Blooms to create custom bouquets, Bala for a workout class and Sweet Rose creamery for an ice cream event.

The opening of the pop-up comes nearly a year after Levi Strauss announced it would acquire the DTC yoga brand.

Beyond Yoga’s Wahler said it intends to open more stores this year and in 2023.

Nike exiting Russia, American Eagle exiting China

Nike and American Eagle Outfitters are each apparently making big decisions about their overseas operations, with the sports giant exiting Russia for good and the teen apparel retailer reportedly at least hitting pause on its sales in China.

After temporarily closing its stores in Russia, Nike won’t reopen them, according to a notice posted to its Russian website that states the company “made a decision to exit the Russian market.” The website and mobile app also will no longer be available in the region, per the statement.

A company spokesperson confirmed that, “NIKE, Inc. has made the decision to leave the Russian marketplace,” but did not respond to several requests to clarify whether the decision is related to the ongoing war in Ukraine. “Our priority is to ensure we are fully supporting our employees while we responsibly scale down our operations over the coming months,” the spokesperson said.

Several brands and retailers have closed up shop in Russia since that country’s invasion of Ukraine four months ago.

For American Eagle, the calculation to leave behind its China-based sales, if true, is likely financial rather than political. The retailer didn’t immediately respond to requests for confirmation of a report in Women’s Wear Daily stating that the apparel retailer has not only closed stores there but also deleted its Tmall storefront online.

Chinese customers can still shop at American Eagle via its own brands’ websites, although the goods will be shipped from the U.S., according to Women’s Wear Daily’s report. And the decision doesn’t affect its Hong Kong market, which remains “an important part of our [Asian Pacific region] growth strategy,” according to that report.

Academy Sports and Outdoors debuts men’s private label focused on versatility





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