Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 28, 2022]
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Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 28, 2022]

6 months ago

CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the latest happenings in the metaverse — from a metaverse wedding with a touching twist, to Goldman Sachs predicting a US$8T metaverse opportunity.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 28, 2022]

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Indian Couple to Hold Metaverse Wedding

Beyond gaming on the metaverse and holding office meetings in a virtual space, an Indian couple has found a new way to utilize the metaverse. Dinesh Sivakumar Padmavathi and Janaganandhini Ramaswamy will be holding India’s first metaverse wedding next month.

Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, wedding gatherings have been limited to 100 people in Tamil Nadu. However, about 2,000 people have already been invited to attend a virtual reception of the wedding ceremony in February. The guests can attend the Hogwarts-themed party via their mobile phones, tablets, or laptops.

"Because of the pandemic, a physical, real kind of reception is not possible with the huge number of people attending. So, we decided: let's make it in the metaverse."

As for the couple, the groom is a 24-year-old blockchain and crypto enthusiast. He worked with TardiVerse to create the castle-like virtual space inspired by Hogwarts. The online event cost 150,000 Indian rupees ($2,016) to design, develop and host.

Guests will be able to see the virtual avatar of the couple, customize their own avatars and outfit, as well as explore the castle.

Adding an interesting twist to the whole metaverse party is the fact that the bride’s late father will also be in attendance. Padmavathi said:

"My father-in-law passed away last April. So, I'm creating a 3D avatar that looks similar to (him), and he will bless me and my fiancée. That's something we can only do in the metaverse."
In reality, metaverse weddings are not entirely new. There are reports of several other metaverse wedding events, including that of a US couple that held a physical and virtual ceremony on Virbela.

Popular Indian Artist Daler Mehndi to Host Metaverse Concert

India appears to be catching up fast to the metaverse frenzy. One of the region’s popular singers, Daler Mehndi, is set to become the first Indian artist to hold a virtual concert in the metaverse.

The Bolo Ta Ra Ra crooner announced last week that he was going to perform several songs in a metaverse called Partynite on January 26.

As per the details shared by the artist on Instagram, the concert was dubbed "India's first virtual concert." As a result, interested individuals will be able to attend the concert from the comfort of their homes. Furthermore, selected NFTs will be airdropped during the event.

Meta is Backing up its Metaverse Ambitions With the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer

Back in December, Intel argued that existing computational infrastructure was not enough to deliver a robust metaverse experience. The company’s head of accelerated computing systems and graphics group, Raja Koduri, told Quartz in an interview:
“One foundational thing we always knew is that for what we imagined in Snow Crash, what we imagined in Ready Player One, for those experiences to be delivered, the computational infrastructure that is needed is 1000 times more than what we currently have.”

It appears Meta (formerly Facebook) agrees with the idea of building the infrastructure to power the metaverse. The company is well on its way to building what it claims will be the world’s fastest artificial intelligence-focused supercomputer.

On Monday, Meta revealed that its AI Research SuperCluster (RSC) was up and running. Although not yet complete, it is being used to feed large AI models with parameters. Meta AI researchers Kevin Lee and Shubho Sengupta wrote in a blog post:

“We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together. Ultimately, the work done with RSC will pave the way toward building technologies for the next major computing platform — the metaverse, where AI-driven applications and products will play an important role.”

According to Meta’s researchers, the social media giant has made significant strides in the area of “self-supervised learning.” The company believes it needs more computational power to push its AI and metaverse ambitions, and this has given birth to the RSC.

The RSC is made up of 6,080 of Nvidia Corp.’s A100 graphics processing units. These GPUs are then combined into multiple compute nodes that are linked with Nvidia’s high-performance Quantum 200 gigabit-per-second InfiniBand networking fabric. The supercomputer also offers 175 petabytes of storage from Pure Storage Inc.’s FlashArrays and 46 petabytes of cache storage from Penguin Computing Inc.’s Altus systems.

“Early benchmarks on RSC, compared with Meta’s legacy production and research infrastructure, have shown that it runs computer vision workflows up to 20 times faster, runs the Nvidia Collective Communication Library (NCCL) more than nine times faster, and trains large scale NLP models three times faster. That means a model with tens of billions of parameters can finish training in three weeks, compared with nine weeks before.”

Despite the current capacity of the RSC, Meta is looking to make it more powerful, with plans of ramping it up to 16,000 GPUs by the middle of the year.

Commenting on the move, Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. told SiliconANGLE that big giants are in a race to dominate the metaverse and that AI will become a key part of the industry.

“It’s no surprise that one of the key players with big ambitions for the metaverse, Meta, is building its first AI supercomputer for research purposes. The metaverse is still at its inception and a lot of research needs to happen for it to really take off, so Meta is taking some key first steps towards doing that.”

Huobi Launches $100 Million Rewards Campaign to Foster Metaverse Development

Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has launched a metaverse campaign to promote developments in the industry. Dubbed Prime Fest: Tiger Year, the Lunar New Year campaign is expected to run until Feb. 14, 2022.

$100 million in prizes and rewards has been set aside for the campaign, which will grant users access to several products, including the chance to experience augmented reality and VR. Consumers will also have access to special blind box draws and new metaverse token listings under Huobi’s high-yield asset management product Primelist. Furthermore, users can also create personalized decentralized identifiers (DIDs) in order to win unique tiger-themed NFTs.

Commenting on the recent development fund, Huobi’s co-founder Du Jun said:

“Our emphasis on the metaverse reflects our intentions to provide a more fun and unique crypto experience. We’re not just another spot trading exchange. We pride ourselves on our diverse set of products and services, and the promotions we run are designed to gamify the trading experience and make it more fun.”
The crypto exchange has joined others like Binance and FTX to expand into the NFT space.

The Metaverse Is Pointless, Inventor of PlayStation Argues

Despite the ongoing hype around the metaverse and the influx of tech giants into the space, the inventor of the PlayStation Ken Kutaragi has dismissed the trend as pointless.

During an interview with Bloomberg, Kutaragi claimed that tech should seek to integrate rather than try to separate between the real and virtual worlds.
“Being in the real world is very important, but the metaverse is about making quasi-real in the virtual world, and I can’t see the point of doing it. Headsets would isolate you from the real world, and I can’t agree with that.”

He questioned those who have jumped on the trend, labeling VR headsets as annoying and claiming that metaverse was no different from “anonymous message board sites.”

On the flip side of Kutaragi’s comments, big tech firms are in an obvious race to dominate the space. From Meta to Google, Apple, and Microsoft, these tech giants are already exploring the metaverse in one form or the other. Just last week, Microsoft made a bold metaverse play by acquiring Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 million.

The Sandbox Launches $50M Metaverse Accelerator

Popular decentralized metaverse platform The Sandbox has launched an accelerator program to support metaverse startups.

In collaboration with its parent company Animoca Brands and global venture accelerator Brinc, The Sandbox has earmarked $50 million to invest in up to 100 startups. The initiative is looking to invest in 30 to 40 startups per year over the next three years.

The Sandbox Metaverse Accelerator Program will be added to the existing Launchpad Luna partnership between Animoca and Brinc. Back in December, Animoca led a $130 million funding round for Brinc.

Beyond attracting developers to explore its platform, The Sandbox initiative is targeting creators within the broader crypto ecosystem, particularly in the area of interoperability. The three-month online program will include mentorship and investment, as well as tools to help projects access their market readiness and connect with partners, influencers, and investors.

The accelerator has Sandbox-centric incentives to the mix. Each startup will receive an equity investment of $150,000 to $250,000, plus up to $150,000 worth of SAND tokens. Participants will also receive grants of in-game land plots.

The program has attracted several top mentors from across the crypto and gaming industries, including The Sandbox team, Yield Guild Games co-founder Gabby Dizon, Animoca Brands Executive Chairman Yat Siu, and Lympo co-founder and CEO Ada Jonuse.

The Metaverse Is an $8 Trillion Opportunity, Goldman Sachs

According to global investment bank Goldman Sachs, the metaverse is primed to be an $8 trillion opportunity.

Eric Sheridan, an analyst with the company, explained Goldman’s metaverse stance in a recent “Exchanges at Goldman Sachs” episode, dubbed “Understanding the metaverse and web 3.0.” Responding to the evolution of the metaverse and its future potential, he said:

“We think this could be as much as an $8 trillion opportunity on the revenue and monetization side. We look at the digital economy today, which is roughly about 20%, 25% of the global economy … We see the digital economy continuing to grow, and on top of that we see a virtual economy that will grow within and alongside this digital economy.”
Apart from Sachs, a few others have also dropped similar metaverse predictions. In November, rival investment bank Morgan Stanley said that the metaverse was an $8 trillion market opportunity. A month later, Bank of America’s strategist, Haim Israel, called the metaverse “a massive opportunity” where cryptocurrencies will be widely used as currencies. “I definitely believe this is a massive, massive opportunity,” he said.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Ark Investment Management, Cathie Wood, opined that the budding world of virtual experiences was a multi trillion-dollar market, while crypto-asset manager Grayscale Investments scored the sector a potential $1 trillion in business opportunity.

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