Move over, bitcoin, there’s a new crypto trend on the rise: NFTs. A novel kind of collectable, this particular cryptocurrency is all that anyone seems to be talking about right now. The digital artist Beeple sold his work, “Everydays — The First 5000 Days,” as an NFT for a record $69 million at Christie’s in March, whereas a tech company made $380,000 from an NFT video that shows a Banksy print, worth $95,000, being physically burned. While most NFTs right now are virtual, in the future, we are likely to see digital and analogue worlds converge. Already, some NFTs, including artwork, clothing, and even real estate, use augmented reality (AR) to allow users to interact with them in the real world. In 2021 and beyond, augmented reality NFTs will likely enter the mainstream.
But what exactly are NFTs, and more importantly, augmented reality NFTs? And how can you, or your brand, leverage this fast-growing trend? Keep on reading to find out.
What Are NFTs and Why Are They Popular Right Now?
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are a type of digital asset that exists on the blockchain. However, unlike most virtual currencies, NFTs are unique and can’t be replaced or exchanged for something else of the same value (hence why they’re called “non-fungible”). In this sense, NFTs are similar to Pokemon cards or rare minted coins.
NFTs can be all kinds of digital objects, including music, videos, images, and even tweets. Jack Dorsey sold the first-ever tweet for more than $2 million and basketball fans have spent $230 million trading official NBA-licensed video highlights. Kings of Leon was the first music group to have released a new album as an NFT and Grimes auctioned off video pieces for $7,500 each.
While anyone can view an NFT, only the person who bought it actually “owns” it. Notice the quotation marks — it’s important to bear in mind that NFTs are not digital assets themselves. Rather, they’re electronic records representing ownership of the asset.
NFT ownership is recorded on the blockchain, a digital ledger of transactions that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ether.
What Are Augmented Reality NFTs?
While regular NFTs are just representations of art pieces or moments in time (like images or videos), AR NFTs include AR elements and cues, such as the ability to visualise digital objects in your environment or on your face/body. 3D NFTs are digital objects that can also be visualised using AR or other technology.
In other words, AR NFTs and 3D NFTs are immersive experiences that can be shared via AR-enabled websites or apps.
Benefits of Augmented Reality NFTs
The main advantage of AR NFTs and 3D NFTs is that they can generate new revenue streams for artists (visual artists, digital artists, musicians, video-makers, etc.), auctioneers, and commerce retailers.
For example, the singer Shawn Mendes recently used NFT technology to launch virtual versions of some of his most recognisable accessories like his vest, earrings, gold ring, and Fender guitar, which fans can use on their digital avatars.
Art NFTs also reduce the need for intermediaries by allowing artists to engage with their audience directly. Plus, in contrast to analogue items, digital collectables are software, which means that the original creator can get a royalty each time an NFT is resold.
Types of Augmented Reality NFTs
Wondering what kinds of AR NFTs are available right now? Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
World lenses of digital art NFTs
Perhaps one of the most popular examples of how NFT technology is used in the art world is world lenses (live filters), which let users display unique pieces of digital art. With a world lens, you can interact with an art NFT by placing it in your own environment, be it your living room, office, or an art gallery, with AR.
Paris-based Pascal Boyart was one of the first street artists to attach Bitcoin QR codes to his work. In 2019, his mural celebrating the Yellow Vest protests was swiftly painted over by the French authorities. But the mural lived on with art NFTs — a move which was also highly lucrative for Boyart. Notably, Boyart often enlivens his murals with audio, motion, and augmented reality.
The auction house Sotheby’s, which has worked with Poplar Studio before to create an Instagram filter that allowed users to see what Botticelli’s “Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel” would look like in their own homes, is also about to enter the AR NFT market.
Face filter NFTs
Artists are also increasingly combining their art with tech to create face filter NFTs. Melbourne-based artist Marc-O-Matic is a good example — his artwork merges traditional illustrative art, 3D animation, and augmented reality.
If you’ve never heard of Marc-O-Matic, you’re probably well aware of MF DOOM. Before the British-American rapper passed away in 2020, he released augmented reality DOOM masks. The masks, which resembled MF DOOM’s own signature mask, were showcased in an Instagram video with everyone from Kim Kardashian to Marilyn Monroe to Jack Nicholson in The Shining “wearing” them. Copies of the masks were valued at almost a million dollars as NFTs.
3D product NFTs
Art NFTs are not limited to artwork and face filters. 3D models of unique products are also gaining ground.
The Argentinian designer Andres Reisinger recently held an online NFT auction of virtual surrealist furniture. The furniture, which sold for almost half a million dollars, can be placed in any shared 3D space (such as Decenntraland or Minecraft), virtual- and augmented-reality applications, and development platforms like Unreal Engine to create animations, games, and even CGI movies.
A fashion NFT is exactly what it sounds like: a clothing piece that you can wear on your body. This is made possible via:
- An AR filter.
- Companies like DressX that layer clothing on social media photos.
- In virtual reality.
- Through an avatar.
A collaboration between the crypto brand RTFKT Studios and Atari resulted in a line of digital sneakers that buyers will be able to show off across multiplayer blockchain games, including the upcoming Atari Metaverse. Impressively, users can actually try on these sneakers at home before buying them using either Snapchat or the MetaverseMe app.
How Can You Create Your Own AR NFTs?
Contrary to what you may think, making your own NFTs is pretty simple — you don’t need to have extensive technical or crypto knowledge. There are plenty of NFT marketplaces that make it easy to turn your artwork (or anything else you may have designed) into an NFT.
Granted, creating an AR NFT or a 3D NFT is a bit more complicated, not least because it requires embedding visual cues that trigger the digital item to appear in the physical world. However, AR NFTs are also potentially more lucrative. In a market that is fast becoming oversaturated with regular NFTs, NFTs that permit users to participate in immersive experiences that can be shared with others is a surefire way to stand out from the competition.
On the other hand, brands may want to pay attention to reports of the impact of NFTs on the environment, and how NFTs might fit within their environmental policies.
Want to take advantage of the immense opportunities offered by immersive NFTs? Get in touch with us here at Poplar Studio today and we will help you develop your very own AR NFT.