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This Week in the Metaverse: virtual dog parks, Apple teases plans, LMHV CEO urges caution

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Things are moving fast in the metaverse. Depending on who you speak to, this futuristic virtual world is either the next big thing in marketing or an overhyped fad. Here’s what happened this week.

A virtual dog park is coming to the metaverse. Dog wellness brand Get Joy announced this week that it has begun to develop its new “Get joy dog zone,” the world’s first metaverse-based dog park. The goal is to provide a virtual space where dog owners – especially those who live in densely-populated cities — can congregate, share tips about dog-raising, visualize what a physical dog park might look like, and then (hopefully) apply all of those insights to the real world, where it will (hopefully) benefit the physical and emotional lives of their (actual) dogs.

“We’re really excited about creating a space that allows for communities to learn about the power of a physical dog park…[so] they can rethink their own community,” says Get Joy’s founder and chief executive and former Facebook exec Tom Arrix. “It works both ways: we’re going to leverage the metaverse for education, but we’re also really hopeful that that bleeds backwards into their own community in real life to better the environment for these animals.” The virtual park is being built in collaboration with M3taverse.io, and will be located in Decentraland.

Hermès sues an artist for sale of copycat virtual handbags. The French luxury brand Hermès is suing an artist for copyright infringement after he created and sold NFTs featuring digital mock-ups of the brand’s iconic handbags. The artist — Los Angeles-based Mason Rothschild — reportedly sold one of his “MetaBirkin” handbag NFTs in December for $42,000. The fashion brand filed a lawsuit earlier this month and called Rothschild “a digital speculator who is seeking to get rich quick.”

Serpentine Gallery pairs up with KAWS to launch a massive virtual art show. London’s famous Serpentine Galleries has been recreated in the wildly popular gaming platform Fortnite to host “New Fiction,” an exhibition from artist Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS. On its opening day, the exhibition was touted by art fans as potentially becoming the most attended art show of all time.

The partnership between Serpentine, KAWS, and Fortnite represents “a first-of-its-kind experience bridging the physical and virtual art worlds,” Fortnite developer Epic Games announced in a recent statement. The physical exhibit of “New Fiction” was unveiled alongside a virtual version, which fans could access via Fortnite Creative. The exhibition ran from January 18 to 25 and allowed “players and art fans from all around the world to access the show from anywhere.”

Apple’s Tim Cook teases plans for the metaverse. Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook reportedly stated during a call with investors this week that his company sees “a lot of potential” in the metaverse and is “investing accordingly,” causing a flurry of investment in Apple stock.

Apple — which, valued at approximately $400 billion, is now considered the wealthiest company in the world — is known for its wildly popular consumer tech products. Thus far, it doesn’t seem to have ventured too deeply into the virtual space, though some have eagerly speculated that Apple VR and AR products will be coming in the near future, and that when they do, Apple could quickly become one of the leaders in the race to build the metaverse. Apple was, in fact, slated to release its first AR headset in 2022, but that may now be delayed until next year, according to a report from Bloomberg.

LVMH CEO delivers “a note of caution” about the metaverse. Bernard Arnault, chief executive of luxury goods giant LVMH and the third-richest man in the world, is cautiously optimistic about the profit-generating potential of the metaverse. He said that the metaverse is “thought-provoking,” but he also touched on a note of caution: “we have to be wary of bubbles,” per a report from CNBC. He is, of course, using the colloquial word from the investing world to describe the phenomenon that can occur when a surge of financial interest is produced by the unveiling of what appears to be a massive new market. Such bubbles often pop.

Bud Light launches NFT collection to celebrate release of zero-carb beer. In its first foray into the burgeoning NFT market, Bud Light will begin selling a collection of more than 12,000 tokens to commemorate the release of Bud Light Next, the brand’s first zero-carb beer. The brand announced on its website that token holders will “have access to exclusive benefits including voting rights on future initiatives (like brand merch), rewards, and surprises.” Tokens will be available for purchase to anyone over the age of 21 beginning on February 6, 2022, for $399 apiece. Bud Light Next will hit shelves the following day (February 7).

Miller Lite’s metaverse-based bar gets roasted by Stephen Colbert. Miller Lite recently announced that it would open a virtual bar in the metaverse, where it would debut its ad for this year’s Super Bowl. It will be replete with a bouncer, bathrooms and bar games.

While much of the press delighted in the stunt, Stephen Colbert had a different take: “[It’s] perfect for anyone who thought, ‘man, I love commercials, but I wish I had to work harder to access them while my avatar drinks this imaginary can of carbonated disappointment.’” Miller Lite told The Drum, “that’s late night for you!” and that it is embracing the humor — as well as the attention that has been garnered from the stunt.

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UAE museum partners with cryptocurrency exchange on ‘most beautiful NFTs in metaverse’ project

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DUBAI: For many Lebanese, the past can be a painful subject. A civil war destroyed large swaths of the country between 1975 and 1990. The postwar period has been marked by sectarian strife and government dysfunction.

But in spite of the traumas of recent decades, Lebanon remains a land of immense cultural wealth, with a rich history reflected in its architectural, cultural and anthropological heritage.

This is why the Beirut Museum of Art, or BeMA, which is due to open in 2026, has been billed as a “beacon of hope” in a country beset by political paralysis, economic decline and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

When Sandra Abou Nader and Rita Nammour launched the museum project, their goal was to showcase the wide diversity of Lebanese art and provide facilities for education, digitization, restoration, storage and artist-in-residency programs.

“They realized that there was, in fact, very little visibility for the Lebanese artistic scene, within the country and abroad, and for Lebanese artists, whether modern or contemporary,” BeMA’s art consultant, Juliana Khalaf, told Arab News.

Compuer-generated views of BeMA. Described as a ‘vertical sculpture garden,’ it will feature three gallery floors that borrow elements from local art deco designs. (Supplied/WORKac)

About 700 works of art will be on display at the new venue, drawn from the Lebanese Ministry of Culture’s collection of more than 2,000 pieces, the bulk of which have been in storage for decades.

“We are going to be housing this very important collection,” said Khalaf. “We call it the national collection and it belongs to the public. It’s our role to make it, for the very first time, accessible. It’s never been seen before.”

The artworks, created by more than 200 artists and dating from the late-19th century to the present day, tell the story of this small Mediterranean country from its renaissance era and independence to the civil war period and beyond.

The collection includes pieces by Lebanese American writer, poet and visual artist Kahlil Gibran and his mentor, the influential late-Ottoman-era master Daoud Corm, who was renowned for his sophisticated portraiture and still-life painting.

Works by pioneers of Lebanese modernism, such as Helen Khal, Saloua Raouda Choucair and Saliba Douaihy, will also feature among the collection, as will several lesser-known 20th-century artists, including Esperance Ghorayeb, who created several rare, abstract compositions in the 1970s.

“The collection is a reminder of the beautiful heritage that we have,” said Khalaf. “It shows us our culture through the eyes of our artists.”

Among the priorities for the BeMA team, in partnership with the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences, is the restoration of the collection, which includes several paintings and works on paper that have been damaged by war, neglect, improper storage or simply the passage of time.

Gathering information about the artists and their effects on Lebanon’s artistic heritage is another priority for the BeMA team, and is a task that has proved to be challenging given the dearth of published resources and the means to catalog them.

FASTFACT

* International Museum Day, held annual on or around May 18, highlights a specific theme or issue facing museums internationally.

“What was surprising was how little research there is out there and how much we need to do on that front, like getting the right equipment that is not currently available in the country to properly archive books and photography,” said Khalaf.

In 2018, the BeMA team approached WORKac, an architectural firm based in New York, for ideas about the new venue. Co-founded by Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, a Lebanese-born architect and former dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, WORKac has designed museums in California, Texas, New York and Florida.

For Andraos, who left Lebanon at the age of three, the chance to design a home for Beirut’s artistic heritage is particularly special.

“I think it’s a very personal project for everyone involved,” she told Arab News. “Everybody put their heart and soul into this idea that Beirut really needed a museum to house the national collection.

“For me, personally, I have a great attachment to Beirut, to its history, as well as architecturally, artistically and intellectually.”

“Everyone involved in it sees it as a beacon of hope, it’s almost like a resistance to collapse,” says Amale Andraos, the Lebanese-born architect and co-founder of architecture firm WORKac. (Supplied)

Given the country’s troubled past and complex identity, Andraos believes the museum’s collection will prove valuable in helping Lebanon rediscover its sense of self and recover from past traumas.

“It’s an archive that we need to go back to, to understand who we are and how we move forward,” she said.

After the project was approved by city authorities, the first stone was laid at the site of the new museum in February. The initial phase requires Andraos and her team to examine the site for archaeological remains.

When complete, the museum will feature three gallery floors that borrow aesthetic elements from local Art Deco urban design. It has been described as an “open museum” and a “vertical sculpture garden,” owing to its cubic facade which will be embellished with bursts of greenery from top to bottom.

Andraos admits she was initially skeptical about the project. Lebanon is in the throes of multiple crises, including a financial collapse. Beirut, the capital, is yet to recover from the devastating blast at the city’s port on Aug. 4, 2020, when a warehouse filled with highly explosive ammonium nitrate caught fire and detonated, leveling an entire district.

All of this, combined with the additional economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused thousands of young Lebanese to move abroad in search of work and respite from the seemingly endless litany of crises.

Lebanon is experiencing financial collapse, economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, mass unemployment and hunger, increasing poverty and government dysfunction. (AFP)

For some people in the country, though, it is precisely because of these issues that a museum celebrating Lebanon’s cultural achievements is needed, perhaps now more than ever.

“When I recently presented the museum to a member of the BeMA board, I said: ‘This is probably the worst time for a museum,’ and he said: ‘This is the most important time for a museum because we need culture, education and ideas,’” said Andraos.

“When people are hungry, it’s like art versus food — but art is also food, in some ways, for the spirit and the mind.

“Everyone involved in it sees it as a beacon of hope and the country needs to build its institutions. It’s almost like a resistance to collapse. We have a history that is worth valuing, rereading, and a culture that we need to preserve and build on.”

This is not to say that the project was welcomed by everyone at the beginning.

“There’s no large public attendance of museums; it’s something that really needs to be developed,” Khalaf said. “In that respect, people felt like it was an unnecessary project.

“But now that people actually see that it’s a serious project and is happening, the attitude has changed. People say there’s something to look forward to.”

To date, about 70 percent of funding for the project has been allocated and a public appeal will soon be launched to make up any shortfall. Entry to the museum will be free.

Located in the leafy, upmarket, residential Badaro district in the heart of Beirut, known for its early-20th-century, art deco-influenced buildings, the museum will stand on what was once the “green line” that separated the east and west of the capital during the civil war.

“What’s nice about it now is that it might become the ‘museum mile,’ because there’s the National Museum, BeMA, Mim Museum, and if you just go further down, you’ll actually get to the Sursock Museum,” said Khalaf.

“It changes the perspective from a war-torn Beirut to a culturally alive Beirut.” 

__________

Twitter: @artprojectdxb

 



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Miami tech company uses VR to bring real estate into the metaverse

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MIAMI – Virtual reality is taking South Florida by storm with companies dipping into the digital world across healthcare, fitness, and other parts of everyday life.

One local company is hoping to capture Miami’s attention and take a step toward the future with real estate.

Alvaro Alesso and Patricio Navarro are two of the three minds behind YUPIX, a Miami-based technology company promising to change the way people interact with the world.

“As the book is the extension of your mind, YUPIX, or spatial computing, is the extension of your reality, so imagine how powerful your life is going to be if your reality could be taken to new boundaries. Extending the earlier reality is why the name is YUPIX because you pick your own reality, you pick what you want to see, you are the main character,” Alesso said.

The main focus of the company is on real estate and YUPIX has a featured project at the E11EVEN Hotel & Residences Miami, and E11EVEN Hotel Residences Beyond, a pair of 65-story condominiums downtown that looks to highlight luxury living.

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Even though the location isn’t up yet, with YUPIX you can take a walkthrough of what’s coming.

As soon as you strap on the virtual reality headset, there’s no need for blueprints or models of the building. YUPIX allows you to walk through the condominiums before it’s actually built.

Local 10′s Gio Insignares got to take a first look at what these condominiums are going to look like with Alesso and Navarro guiding him along the way of the virtual reality tour.

Into the metaverse using YUPIX, fully furnished apartments are shown highlighting every littlest detail along with a virtual reality pool you can swim in.

The technology YUPIX provides can also identify any potential problems, create solutions, and accelerate decision-making in the real estate development process. YUPIX says the first tower is already sold out, while the second tower is at about 90 percent sold out, a number even the property’s own website strongly highlights.

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YUPIX’s larger goal is to expand the business beyond Miami eventually becoming an international brand, that anyone can visit anywhere, in an instant.

“So you are going to be interactive all the time, between the real world and the virtual world in a way that is going to be absolutely natural, and that is how we envision the world,” Navarro said.

While some might be hesitant about this change, YUPIX argues that this moment represents a new leap for technology, yet another step into the ever-evolving metaverse, and an opportunity to lead the way into the future.

“I believe technology empowers us. Technology as a tool is not good or bad per se. It is up to us to learn how to use it properly, and it’s up to us to learn how to use this new power that we have,” Alesso said.

Construction on the E11EVEN Hotel & Residences is expected to be completed in 2023. While construction on the second tower, E11EVEN Hotel Residences Beyond is expected to start this summer.

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According to YUPIX and other reports, both locations are planned to be connected on the ground and through a sky bridge.

Copyright 2022 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.



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Sony readies for metaverse revolution with cross-platform push

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TOKYO, May 18 (Reuters) – Japanese conglomerate Sony Group Corp (6758.T) said it is well-positioned to play a leading role in the metaverse, or immersive virtual worlds, which commentators speculate will massively disrupt industries and establish new powerhouses.

The metaverse is a vague term encapsulating the idea that consumers will spend more time in online simulated environments. While the concept is evolving, it has become a buzzword in briefings and a driver of industry dealmaking.

“The metaverse is at the same time a social space and live network space where games, music, movies and anime intersect,” Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said at a strategy briefing on Wednesday, pointing to the use of free-to-play battle royale title Fortnite from Epic Games as an online social space.

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Sony’s game, music and movie units contributed two-thirds of operating income in the year ended March, underscoring the group’s transformation from consumer electronics maker into a metaverse-ready entertainment juggernaut under Yoshida and predecessor Kazuo Hirai.

The firm is a gaming gatekeeper with its PlayStation 5 console, however observers point to the risk presented by the growth of cross-platform, cloud-based titles and their potential to reduce the influence of proprietary platforms.

Sony has been adjusting its approach, enabling cross-play in Fortnite in 2018. This week, Epic said in-game “V-Bucks” currency purchased on PlayStation would be usable on other platforms.

“PlayStation has played a huge role in the social gaming revolution that’s nurturing the growth of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium,” Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter.

Sony has also taken steps to expand beyond its focus on single-player titles such as “Spider-Man: Miles Morales”, with a deal announced in January to buy Bungie, the developer of online multi-player shooter “Destiny”.

“We believe it will be a catalyst to enhance our live service game capabilities… (It) represents a major step forward in becoming multi-platform,” Yoshida said.

Sony already licences its content to other platforms, profiting from the value to streamers of content such as popular U.S. sitcom “Seinfeld”. Though the firm owns the Crunchyroll anime streaming service, it has not pushed as aggressively into operating its own video platforms as rivals such as Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) with its Disney+ service.

Beyond the metaverse, Yoshida also staked out Sony’s claim in mobility, with the conglomerate developing an electric vehicle with Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T).

Sony created a new lifestyle in 1979 with the launch of the Walkman, Yoshida said.

“We are aiming to turn the mobility space into a new entertainment space… We believe mobility will be the next megatrend,” he said.

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Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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