Discussions of the metaverse are everywhere in today’s technology landscape. The metaverse has suddenly become big business. Daniel Maegaard, an active investor in wine tokens, recently acquired a virtual plot of land in the metaverse for more than US$850,000 USD.
Once the realm of technology pioneers and data scientists, the metaverse is expanding to affect everyone. The impact of this environment is evident in everything from the rising demand for Roblix (gaming), to the transformation of Facebook into the new “Meta” brand.
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What is Extended Reality?
Most people refer to the metaverse (meta universe) as a new kind of internet experience, one built around a number of unique technologies. To go a little deeper, the metaverse offers a future where we can enjoy a stronger overlap between our physical and digital lives.
The three most common forms of technology associated with the metaverse (outside of the internet itself), are XR (Extended Reality), blockchain, and AI. Currently, the gaming environment is still considered the “starting point” of the metaverse by most experts.
One of the biggest opportunities in the future of the metaverse is the creation of new and improved economies, with marketplaces where digital-native and traditional brands alike are interacting with clients through everything from virtual and augmented reality, to the delivery of new digital assets.
Perhaps the simplest example of a kind of metaverse economy, comes in the use of real money for purchasing digital goods and services.
Virtual reality allows users to enter the metaverse, closing the perceived gaps between digital and physical realities. Virtual versions of people, objects, and landscapes will allow us to explore brand-new environments and make experiences more accessible to everyone.
People can step into events, visit stores, and explore learning opportunities in virtual reality. Alternatively, augmented, and mixed reality will allow us to enhance our real world like never before. Even accessories in the XR landscape, like haptic feedback tools will allow us to bridge the gaps in relationships and feel the handshakes and hugs of our contacts wherever they are.
AR, real money for purchasing digital goods and services
These days, Augmented Realty (AR) is one of the better-known terms in the Extended Reality landscape, and one of the most accessible disruptive technologies around. In simple terms, augmented reality gives us the power to enhance or “augment” our existing environment with digital information like images, text, and animations.
Various analysts believe it will create a host of new opportunities in the form of new economies. Perhaps the simplest example of a kind of metaverse economy, comes in the use of real money for purchasing digital goods and services. For instance, there are endless examples of gaming communities where people can purchase “loot crates,” skins for avatars, and virtual products.
An Augmented Reality application will implement visual, auditory, and other sensory information into the world to enhance your experience.
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The rise of augmented reality in the last few years has sparked the discovery of different “types” of augmentation. For instance, there’s “markerless” AR, which uses GPS systems, compasses, and gyroscopes to provide real-time information based on location. Companies can also create AR experiences triggered by specific markers, like QR codes you can scan with your smartphone. Experimentation in the AR space has also paved the way to concepts like “Projection-based” AR, which extends into the realm of mixed reality and holograms.
Perhaps the most significant components of AR, however, are:
- Sensors: To align the real and virtual landscapes, AR systems need to be able to quickly capture accurate information about the real world. Sensors and cameras allow for this. When a camera or sensor collects information, it sends it to an app or software for processing.
- AR software: Augmented Reality software is the apps and tools we use to access AR. These days, it’s becoming much easier for people to create their own AR software, thanks to the success of Apple’s ARKit and Google ARCore.
- Processing: AR technology requires processing power to work. For an AR app on a smartphone, this means leveraging the power of the phone’s operating system. Most smart glasses need their own miniature computer system.
- Lenses and viewing: AR glasses and AR apps on smartphones need a lens or image platform so you can see the digital content in the real world. The better the quality of the screen, the more realistic the content appears.
- Artificial intelligence: Most AR solutions leverage some aspect of AI to work properly. AI can play a supportive role alongside AR, by allowing users to complete actions using their voice (natural language processing). AI can also help to process information for your AR application.
A unique method of storytelling for wine producers
Until 2017, most winemakers had probably never even heard of Augmented Reality (AR) technology, or considered how it could be used to sell more wine. That all changed with the launch of the 19 Crimes wine brand by Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates, which created a phenomenally successful AR experience to accompany each of its wine bottles (App Store and Google Play).
The key to understanding why the 19 Crimes AR wines have been so successful has a lot to do with how consumers choose their favorite wine brands. Wine drinkers are looking for brands with a unique story or narrative, and that’s exactly what 19 Crimes provided. When you download the AR app and then point the camera of your smartphone at the wine label, the prisoners animate and come to life, telling their story in their own words. Treasury Wine Estates showed how to build consumer engagement around a brand. Even better, the creation of different stories for different prisoners meant that consumers were tempted to buy more bottles so that they could collect all the stories together.
Based on that initial success, Treasury Wine Estates has rolled out its unique AR platform for even more wine brands in its portfolio, including The Walking Dead wines, Beringer Bros, and Gentleman’s Collection. The Walking Dead wines are particularly noteworthy because they took the AR concept to an even higher level, turning each wine bottle into a unique story about zombie hunter Rick Grimes and the various zombies he must confront. When you point your smartphone at a bottle, an entire entertainment experience comes to life. And here’s the really fun part – when you place two of the bottles from the collection side-by-side, the two bottles interact with each other! The brilliance of this concept, of course, is that a consumer walking into a wine store looking to buy a single bottle of wine is now tempted to buy a second bottle as well, in order to have the full entertainment experience.
And it’s not just Treasury Wine Estates that has figured out how to make AR part of its overall marketing mix. Paso Robles-based Rabble Wine Company has created unique AR experiences that help to tell the story of the brand and engage customers in new ways. If you pick up a bottle of the red blend, you get a story of a comet hitting the city of Florence; if you pick up a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon, you get a story of Mount Vesuvius erupting on the city of Pompeii. All you need to do is download the Rabble Wine Company app, meaning that anyone with a smartphone can enjoy these AR experiences.
And, in September 2017, the Argentine wine brand The Owl and the Dust Devil unveiled a new AR experience featuring both an owl and a dust devil. In this AR experience, you get to watch an owl trying to outrace a tornado. This hints at the power of AR to create cinematic-like experiences on the side of a wine bottle.
One way to convince consumers to buy your bottle of wine is to show that your wine brand is part of a broader social movement or societal trend. In August 2018, the emBrazen Wines brand launched at the same time as the #MeToo movement supporting women was going viral. The wine brand included famous historical women on its label, including Nellie Bly, Josephine Baker and Celia Cruz. If you point your smartphone at the AR wine label, you would be able to hear Cuban-American singer Celia Cruz explain in her own words how she became the most successful Latin artist of the twentieth century. It’s not just that you hear her voice – you also see her face moving on the side of the bottle, almost as if the bottle has come to life. That’s why many wine insiders now refer to these as “living wine labels.”
When consumers connect with those stories and want to share them with their friends and family on social media, that’s when the real magic takes place. It’s fascinating enough that a wine bottle is talking to you. But when that bottle is telling a story that you want to share as part of your overall identity, it becomes something that can go viral on social media very easily.
Ultimately, augmented reality is all about boosting engagement with consumers, turning wine drinkers into fans of your brand, and finding new ways to stand out in a very crowded marketplace. Moreover, since users of AR technology naturally skew much younger demographically, creating these types of AR brand experiences is a great way of connecting with young millennial wine drinkers.