PUMA enters the metaverse, debuting their immersive brand experience “FUTROGRADE” at the New York Fashion Week.
“Twenty years ago, Black Station was Puma’s home for our most innovative designs in fashion. Given the boundaries we are pushing from a product design and digital standpoint, we found it fitting to bring Black Station back as a new portal for digital exploration across fashion, sport performance, our heritage classics, and innovation.” (Adam Petrick, PUMA Chief Brand Officer)
PUMA’s return to New York Fashion Week (NYFW) comes barely a month after their launch on August 27 of their NitroPass Token, which was a free-to-claim digital pass with utility in their upcoming metaverse expansion. The token allowed holders to mint a NitroPass NFT for 0.2 ETH ($300) on August 28 only, which unused Token or NitroPass NFTs burned forever, increasing the scarcity of the collection.
“Nitropass Is Your Entry Into The Future Of Puma Metaverse. The Evolution Of Puma Experiences. And The Next Frontier Of Puma Products. The Nitro Pass Is The Beginning Of The Journey … Black Station is PUMA’s very own 3D spatial playground. A unique Web3 space that enables our NFT community to experience the brand like never before.” (PUMA)
Two new shoe designs were unveiled on Sept. 7, allowing NFT holders to reveal and customize the designs. During the official NYFW fashion show on Sept. 13, NitroPass holders were able to then burn their NFTs in exchange for two new exclusive NFTs: the “Nitro Collection” and “Puma Materializer” NFTs allowing holders to claim a physical pair of shoes in Q1 2023, and also unlock more exclusive experiences for current and future FUTROGRADE events.
Major upcoming events have been teased via their roadmap, “I’m excited about the audience’s perception of how we are presenting the idea of ‘a future-forward classic’; tapping into nostalgia and reimagining it for the future. I want this concept to challenge the audience to be creative with their present, as they forecast what's next." (June Ambrose, PUMA Creative Director).
The collection revealed during the NYFW show has so far fused heritage elements with bolder futuristic designs and aims to keep up the pace with metaverse expansions from competitors such as Nike and Adidas.
“ … there will be remixed retro signatures, upcoming collaborations, custom pieces, and future-leaning looks that emphasize elevated, active style and expressive individuality” (PUMA)
PUMA aims to integrate further interactive elements for upcoming online events hoping to establish their sport fashion vision in the metaverse.
“Returning to fashion week for the first time in several years is significant for us because we knew we needed the right combination of factors to be present. With an emphasis on digital, a great line up of ambassadors and an amazing creative partner in June Ambrose, the foundation and creativity for a great show are there. And we’re excited that this can be the moment for us to bring it to life.” (Adam Petrick, PUMA Chief Brand Officer)
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Roblox announces new features such as Spatial Voice Beta which allows proximity-based voice chat, and Immersive Ads which allow brands to create portals to branded experiences.
At last week’s Roblox Developers Conference (RDC 22) shared their future vision of how they will “reimagine the way people come together”. Key to their vision was a focus on creating meaningful connections, enabling creating through self-expression, building tools to create, and providing an engine for high-fidelity 3D experiences, while furthering community growth and economic opportunity.
Spatial Voice is a new feature that was developed to enable more natural and engaging communication and connection, mimicking conversations in the natural world. Users who are verified to be 13 years and older can now have voice conversations with real-life dynamics. For example, loudness is based on the proximity of avatars, closer is louder and vice versa. Currently, there is a limit of 50 users for each experience. Creators can also disable spatial voice in designated places of their choosing within their experiences.
Next year will bring webcam-enabled tracking of users' facial expressions that are mapped to their avatar in real-time.
Improving in-metaverse expression even further is the launch of their Layered Clothing system, which makes it possible to combine up to six layers of clothing and accessories to fit onto any avatar body type to take “avatar combinatorial possibilities to a whole new level”. The system enables the natural fit and physics of real clothes to be represented in the Roblox world. Users have been going wild with the new feature, dressing up trees in clothing and using the feature to manipulate other shapes and objects in unexpected ways.
“As we move toward a future of interchangeable digital matter and materials, we look forward to some clever developers using these systems in ways we had not even anticipated.” (Roblox)
Also in beta is a feature called Facial Animation, that allows avatar heads to be programmed with moods when a face is static such as a smile, to give a specified facial expression to match a body animation or other trigger, and also allows the equipping of avatar heads with dynamic accessories that change based on the facial expression.
Another upcoming feature is a range of Animation Capture Tools for bodies and faces that uses user tracking enhanced by machine learning models to simplify the animation of avatars using a camera.
The 3D engine has also had a major upgrade with the introduction of parallel scripting, which promises a significant improvement in world rendering performance. This will enable the creation of “larger, more immersive worlds without sacrificing framerate or stability”.
Experience Guidelines is another new feature, that will take into account a user's age before recommending an experience, to allow the use of Parental Controls to restrict access to inappropriate experiences.
The Immersive Ads feature coming next year will allow innovative brand experiences via in-metaverse advertising acting as portals that seamlessly teleport a user between experiences. This feature will strengthen the economic opportunities of the platform by allowing creators and brands to reach their communities in new ways on the platform.
“We continue to make advances on realizing our vision of reimagining the way people come together.” (Roblox)
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Disney announces a plan to embrace metaverse and VR technology to “enhance the future of storytelling”.
“We call it next-gen storytelling … We tend not to use the M word too often, because it has a lot of hair on it … Disney is absolutely a lifestyle … The question is, how is our next-gen storytelling leveraging what we know about a guest uniquely in this Disney lifestyle, then serving up unique experiences” (Bob Chapek, CEO Disney)
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek revealed bold plans during the company’s fan convention D23 Expo. Disney plans to offer all the magic of a trip to Disney without the need to ever physically be there, by offering the theme park as a virtual reality (VR) enabled metaverse experience streamed via their Disney+ platform.
Chapek maintains that the move is driven by a desire to offer the Disney experience to customers who otherwise cannot physically visit the theme park, “We wish every person would have the opportunity to come to our parks, but we realize that's not a reality for some people”.
Disney hopes to future-proof their business while at the same time allowing customized experiences better tailored to their customers, based on their Disney+ and real-world theme park activity.
“We have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform to an experiential platform. A platform for the whole company to embody both the physical things that you might be able to experience in a theme park, but also the digital experiences that you can get through media.” (Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney)
These customized experiences promise to be richer and more immersive than physical only experiences. Park-goers could for example step off a ride and explore the ride’s track and surroundings itself.
“When a family comes to our parks, we know exactly what you did … if you give us the permission and ability through the membership app, we’ll program your Disney+ experience, not according to what you watched last or what other people who watch this show, but to what you did, what you experienced” (Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney)
Chapek until now not revealed the scope of Disney’s metaverse ambitions. The timing of his remarks is made conspicuous by the company’s looming 100-year anniversary. Perhaps he is almost ready to deploy the technical toolkit he has been working on for the past years to make these dreams of a “Virtual World Simulator” a reality.
Only last week, the augmented reality (AR) enabled short film “Remembering” premiered on the Disney+ platforming, the platform’s first use of the technology. Viewers who use the feature are treated to waterfalls, shooting stars and rainbows in supported scenes. Influential film producer Brian Grazer hailed it as, “the perfect marriage of technology and emotion”.
“How do we unbridle our storytelling to unleash a new dimension? It’s a third dimension of the canvas, so that you can start understanding what tools are available from a technology standpoint. How you can use those as an arsenal, like a different paintbrush, right? Telling stories in that third dimension brings everything together.” (Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney)