NFTs and Virtual Reality. Is it the perfect marriage?

Every technology has its “moment

It’s always exciting to see when new technologies emerge and climb up quickly on Gartner’s technology hype cycle. AR had this moment in 2008-2009 shortly after sensor-packed smartphones came to market including the iPhone of course. VR’s moment was around 2016 when HTC, Sony and Oculus launched their first PC/console based VR headsets to the market. And the latest kid on the block, literally, are Non-fungible-tokens (NFTs), a technology and concept taking over many of the technology blog headlines since March of 2021.

What’s a NFT?

“A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files”. If this Wikipedia definition sounds confusing, here is my short version: NFTs are digital and unique things you can own.

Everydays: The First 5000 Days
Beeple’s collage, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, sold at Christie’s. Image: Beeple

The NFT moment in March was when Mike Winkelmann, an artist better known as Beeple, sold his art collage called “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” for $69 million at Christie’s. Since then, the world has gone crazy about the NFT phenomenon. But not only artists are seeing a huge opportunity in NFTs. Literally any company owning some kind of digital asset is now investigating if or how this is relevant to their business.

But what’s the connection to Virtual Reality?

Since all NFTs are “digital”, they obviously require a digital medium to be consumed. Of course, you can just scroll back up on this article to see an art piece worth $69 million! But that’s not how art is appreciated. If you search for the Mona Lisa on Google, you will find thousands of images of the famous and valuable portrait. But of course seeing the Mona Lisa in your search results would never beat an actual visit to the gallery inside of the Louvre in Paris with your partner or friend for a special experience, right? And this is where VR galleries come in. These virtual and social spaces are ideal to consume digital art with others, and perhaps best of all, together with the artist who created it. 

Are you ready for a social and virtual vernissage?

I have been a huge fan of the work the guys at Spatial have done over the past couple of years. Many of my meetings and demonstrations during the pandemic have taken place in their virtual environments. Shortly after Beeple’s record breaking sale earlier this year, Spatial started promoting NFT galleries on their platform. If you are ready to try it yourself, hop over to their events calendar for some upcoming shows. Although these are best experienced with a VR headset, especially to appreciate the incredible interior design, the spatial audio capabilities and the sense of presence and immersion, you can also get access by simply going through your web browser. Not enough? Another interesting virtual reality environment to view NFT art is Cryptovoxels. See you in the metaverse!