Content creators and NFT connoisseurs are increasingly leveraging augmented reality to bring their digital assets off the screen and into the real world. Alongside Overly’s crypto enthusiast, Kristaps Biters, I’ve written a blog that explores the basics of NFTs and their vast potential in combination with augmented reality. Read on and let us guide you through industry basics and explore what’s available on the market when it comes to creating, showcasing, and trading your AR NFTs.
What are NFTs?
If you truly want to get to the bottom of what non-fungible tokens aka NFTs are, I suggest you turn to the NFT Bible. However, I’ll try my best to summarize key things in this blog.
In a nutshell, NFTs are digital identifiers that represent ownership of unique virtual assets. NFT may also include a representation of physical assets attributed to the digital file, such as artworks, real estate or cars.
The term “non-fungible” describes a one of a kind item, hence not interchangeable. In the real world, we consider things like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michael Jackson’s signed memorabilia non-fungible. Fungible items, on the contrary, are not defined by their uniqueness but their value—money best represents this category.
To put it in perspective, you can easily replace a five-dollar note with another—but would you exchange your house with another building just as easily?
What makes NFTs valuable?
Since the dawn of the internet, anything uploaded to the web has fallen into the latter category when it comes to fungibility. Once a person posts content online, it can spread like wildfire, and the source rarely follows the duplicated copies. The issue with this is that online media has lived its own life, and creators have not been able to claim their projects’ economic value, emphasizes digital artist Kevin McCoy.
Well, and then came the NFTs. Powered by smart blockchain contracts, non-tangible tokens empower creators worldwide to own and sell their digital work online. As the NFTs gain in popularity, we see digital creations sell for millions of dollars.
Namely, CryptoPunk #7804 (copy below), sold for $7.5 million while Bored Ape #232 (copy below) cost its new owner $2.8 million. Seems unbelievable to write this, but these takings are quite small if we look at Beeple aka Mike Winelmann’s $69 million NFT. Verge reports that prior to listing his historic NFT for an auction with Christie’s, he had never sold a print that cost more than one hundred bucks.
While sceptics look in awe at the value NFTs generate, digital guru and serial entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, reminds us that once upon a time, people thought that artists like Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock should not have value (and they do). “The thought of people deciding what has value based on their own opinion has made me laugh my entire life and has historically been incorrect,” he says. “The market will decide if something has value.”
Gary emphasizes the profound idea of NFTs being another way people can represent themselves. He explains that people love brands and buy NFTs for the same reason they purchase Chanel handbags, Nike Sneakers and Mercedes Benz.
And the same applies to the digital world. We’ve all cared about digital ownership way before NFTs.” We care about the number of people that follow us on TikTok or if a person has blue checkmarks next to their Instagram photos. We are living more and more in a digital landscape, and NFTs become assets that help individuals communicate who they are,” Gary adds.
All successful NFTs prove that the asset’s origin and ownership status are vital for high-price listing. For example, the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs (copy pictured above) bring admission to a club with NFT-enforced exclusive membership perks. Rumor has it that Bored Ape owners have gathered worldwide and even organized a party on an actual yacht. Meanwhile, owning a CryptoPunk (pictured above) signals an affinity with libertarian politics.
How to turn your digital assets into NFTs?
To interact in the world of NFTs, creators need to register for a cryptocurrency wallet, a must-have for buying, selling and trading crypto and digital assets. If you haven’t got one yet, you can explore a list of the best NFT wallets on the market here. While it will securely host your digital money, this is also required to carry out and validate transactions.
Minting or turning a digital creation into an NFT from a creator’s perspective is quite simple. Authenticating with their crypto wallet, people can join platforms like OpenSea, Rarible or Mintable to transform images, video, audio and 3D files into NFTs.
In general any digital asset or file can be minted into an NFT. However, the user has to pick the right platform that can visualize the given content. For example, OpenSea lets creators assign ownership and manage the transferability of the following file types: JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OFF, FLIP, GLTF. If you’re looking for platforms that can mint and visualize NFT PDFs, FBX or other file types, you can explore other providers.
From a creator’s perspective, turning their work into an NFT is just like uploading a photo on Instagram. Computers do all the technical legwork by providing certificates of authenticity and legal rights to the digital asset and storing its information in a decentralized database or distributed ledger forever. As a result, the NFT is impossible to edit, modify, or delete.
Unlike uploading social media content, though, creators may have to pay what they call gas fees for the listing. Listings on Ethereum blockchain may require creators to invest up to $200 for the minting process. At the same time, platforms like Rarible ensure that the listing owner doesn’t pay the fee but passes this as an add-on charge to the first buyer. Regardless of who pays the initial investment, as seen from the examples above, people get a considerable return on investment (ROI) if their crypto art becomes successful.
Using augmented reality to sell, purchase and showcase your NFTs
Currently, the use of NFTs resembles the manifestation of today’s Metaverse. NFTs exist in an alternative, digital world, whether virtual reality or your computer screen.
With augmented reality, we’re looking at metaverse 2.0 or near-term Metaverse. In this scenario, we come back from our digital Metaverse break and bring our digital assets to the world we’re living in. By merging the real and virtual worlds, AR enhances the sense of ownership. The AR layers in people’s environments present an opportunity for owners to decorate their homes with NFT purchases, take photos with their tokens and more.
Platforms for purchasing markerless AR NFTs
Anima has developed one of the most popular AR and NFT combinations. The startup works with creators to launch markerless augmented reality art, objects, and experiences that are sold as NFTs. Its first large-scale project is Demskey’s Mirror collection, which encourages owners to travel the world to change the visual representation of their NFTs. People can also place their non-fungible AR tokens in their environment and admire them at any time.
This is not dropping a 3D object in a camera and calling it AR – Mirrors are truly interactive.
Real world actions alter on-chain linked metadata.
And blockchain ownership and edition information is reflected and updated dynamically back in AR, every time an owner changes. pic.twitter.com/oeQ2ko7tCl
— Anima (@animavirtuality) November 16, 2021
While we can expect awesome artist collabs from Anima that can attract buyers, the platform is not meant for those eager to create their own AR NFTs. Also, the app that is required for viewing the NFTs is currently compatible with iPhones only.
In terms of exclusive AR NFT collections, Veve is another brand that follows suit. The platform offers digital collectables, but not for the digital creators themselves. Instead, the business capitalizes on big brands and launches limited edition NFTs to Comics, Disney, and more superfans.
Creating and trading augmented reality NFTs
One of the things that the above platforms are both lacking is the democratization of who can create AR NFTs. Leading NFT platforms like OpenSea let anyone with a crypto wallet turn their digital assets into non-fungible tokens.
Companies often overlook the general public as mere consumers and select a special few to collaborate for creation when it comes to AR. However, even in this day and age there are platforms (like Overly Creator) that let anyone create their own augmented reality with no coding skills required. The question is, what’s the best platform to bring these citizen AR creations to the world of NFTs?
Platforms like Vew and Hololoot seem to tackle the challenge. These startups offer AR creation capabilities and NFT marketplaces in one place. This business model is perfect for a clear focus and building a community. However, it may not be a clear cut decision for digital creators. Minting NFTs on multiple platforms can be challenging for those who craft various projects and don’t want to isolate the AR NFTs from other content they sell.
When opting for startup NFT marketplaces, creators must rely on the potential of these platforms to generate sales-qualified visitors. Meanwhile, a vast buyer market is already engaged on sites like OpenSea. Custom marketplace ultimately means platform-specific cryptocurrency (which is excellent if it generates value).
An alternative to setting up multiple accounts is opting for an augmented reality platform that pulls NFTs’ metadata from its hosting platform and serves up the NFT in the real-world environment. This is where Overly Creator’s 3D Editor comes into the picture. The system lets users showcase their digital assets in AR, regardless of their minting and hosting platform and enables creators to set up AR experiences with digital assets they already own.
Creators have to input some metadata details into the system and retrieve content in WebAR or the Overly app. To showcase how simple the NFT representation can be, we’ve minted our own 3D model to Overly’s OpenSea profile. We are now sourcing the meta data directly from the connected and decentralized server to visualize our NFT as a 3D model in personal environments. Open this link on your mobile to test the demo: https://overlyapp.com/webar/demo/
Customizing the world in augmented reality
In addition to markerless AR experiences, did you know that people are scrambling to purchase virtual lands and become celebrity neighbors in virtual reality Metaverse?
Well, SAN is selling real-world locations as NFTs, allowing owners to attach AR content to specific coordinates once purchased as NFT. The platform was launched years back and first designed to host the artworks of the multimedia artist and its author, Gints Gabrāns.
Gints revealed in a 2019 interview that AR provides him with an unruled territory to own and fill with art. “If I was to place a real-life physical sculpture somewhere, I would need to abide by the local laws, sign commercial contracts, or coordinate my activities with local councils and governments,” he explains.
Interestingly, Gints had sold some virtual land within SAN to other artists at the time and it later inspired him to transform the platform and mint AR plots into NFTs. “Artists, who would like to purchase the AR land on SAN and add their artwork to the platform can sign up already. We’re just a couple of months off the public launch and will notify them first,” adds Gints.
If people spend half a million dollars to own virtual reality land in Metaverse, it is completely plausible that more and more investments will be made to own prestigious locations in AR. Brands will launch campaigns at specific areas, while artists will appreciate an opportunity to exhibit their works outside Louver, for example (please note that the plot next to Louver is currently owned by Gints himself).
Marker-based AR merges physical and digital ownership
Clearly, there is vast potential for markerless AR be in location-based or locationless. For years Overly has specialized in marker-based AR, and the question is if this type of AR has a space in the NFT world? Luckily, the answer is yes.
Marker-based augmented reality can present an opportunity for those creators who offer a real-world physical counterpart to their virtual asset. One of the prospective avenues is bringing to life geotagged non-fungible tokens. When geotagging became a thing in the world of NFTs, artists started to attach geographic coordinates to NFTs street art across the globe, which allowed fans to own both a virtual and physical artwork.
Augmented reality offers an opportunity to combine the two worlds in one. You can purchase a digital NFT representing a physical artwork or location and connect them through AR. Once the graffiti, per se, is scanned with an AR app, its digital representation (NFT) could come to life.
Alternatively, the NFT content could complement the actual artwork/location and let owners put the reality and virtual pieces together like a puzzle. An example of this can be viewed in the below case studies. In a nutshell, there are already plenty of augmented reality artworks out there. It is just a question of minting their digital assets.
I hope this blog gave you an insight into the value of combining NFTs with the potential of augmented reality. The fact is that we will be consuming AR content increasingly as the world moves from an all-digital Metaverse to a reality where digital content is present but doesn’t replace our surroundings. This might be just the right time to take a leap and get there early. Leave a comment below if you have any questions on AR NFTs or email us to discuss your project.