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The Metaverse: Driving Change in the Mobility Sector
Metaverse technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR), may change the way that automobiles are experienced, manufactured, marketed, and sold. How is the mobility sector adopting and integrating these new technologies? [1] Virtual ShowroomsMany individuals already begin their new vehicle search online. Metaverse technologies may expand these abilities. AR and VR technologies may allow individuals to visit virtual showrooms and browse thousands of cars. It can also allow them to envision and build their desired vehicles. For example, they may be able to click on different features to get more information or cycle through custom options. Car companies and automobile dealerships can set up virtual showrooms. Acura opened a virtual showroom in Decentraland to introduce customers to its 2023 Integra model. Visitors could walk through the showroom and engage in interactive experiences, like racing cars virtually. While test drives will likely remain an activity that individuals want to experience in the physical world, automobile manufacturers will likely continue to expand the virtual activities that individuals can experience. VR and haptic technologies may enable consumers to examine a highly realistic replica of a vehicle, open doors, feel seats, and simulate driving experiences such as merging in traffic, accelerating on a highway, or backing out of their driveway. InfotainmentCar companies could use AR technologies to display digital information on a car’s dashboard, including speed, GPS directions, cruise control, and current traffic conditions. It could also present information on the surrounding area including, nearby points of interest, restaurants, or retail sales. For passengers, expanding entertainment options could be made available, including immersive video games, educational activities for children, or for riders to be more present in virtual meetings. Manufacturing and Digital TwinsA digital twin is a virtual representation of real-world physical assets or systems. Automobile manufacturers could create a digital twin of a factory floor to assess the vehicle assembly process and make enhancements. VR can also enable the creation of virtual 3-D renderings of automobiles, and allow its viewing in different settings. It can enhance the testing function, generating simulations of different environments such as crowded highways, urban roads, and other environments that may be difficult to replicate in the real world to test the vehicle’s perception systems, decision-making abilities, and control logic. Training and RepairAR and VR technologies can aid in the training process, with technicians being trained on a virtual 3-D vehicle by a remote instructor. Additionally, on-site technicians can connect with virtual avatars or offsite specialists on complex repairs. Making More Activities VirtualBuying a car will likely remain a physical activity. Nothing can replace seeing and testing a vehicle in person. However, metaverse technology may allow for more virtual activities that facilitate the pre-purchase process, make the driving experience more robust and interactive, assist in the manufacturing, training, and repair processes. [1] Source: The Metaverse: Driving Value in the Mobility Sector: McKinsey & Company, 1/4/23 1 min read · 566 views Bong-Geun Choi Jul 11, 2023
What Is the Industrial Metaverse?
When many people hear the word “metaverse,” they immediately think of its applications in gaming, entertainment, and e-commerce. However, the “industrial metaverse” has the potential to offer substantial change to transform how people design, manufacture, and interact with physical entities across industries. What is the “industrial metaverse?” What potential may it offer? What Is the Industrial Metaverse?The term industrial metaverse may be used to describe metaverse technology deployed for industrial applications. It may apply to industries such as manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, supply chain operations, and building. Built on Digital TwinsMany of the industrial applications of the metaverse are built on digital twin technology. A digital twin is a virtual representation of real-world physical assets or systems. For example, it can be a virtual representation of a factory floor, supply chain, or an entire city. Such virtual representations are not new. Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) have long used technology to create simulations of buildings and manufacturing operations. Metaverse technology expands this ability to create 3-D, fully immersive digital representations. Examples of Manufacturing ApplicationsDigital twins may allow companies to create and test digital versions of a factory floor. For example, Siemens designed its Nanjing, China facility using digital technologies. The entire factory floor was simulated with a digital twin, which helped to optimize the building, and to detect and mitigate potential problems before the physical factory was built. According to their website, this process helped to increase manufacturing capacity by 200% and productivity by 20%.[1] Likewise, BMW created a digital twin of its production plant in Bavaria before building the physical facility.[2] The use of digital twins can equally apply to a product. Boeing is using digital twin technology to design its airplanes. Using the technology, Boeing can simulate how the aircraft may perform in different environments and scenarios it may encounter. It also enables Boeing to analyze how the airplane and its parts will perform over its lifetime.[3] Digital versions of cities may also be created to study things such as traffic flow, energy efficiency, and the impact of environmental factors such as sea level rise and temperature change. Digital Human TwinsDigital humans can also be created to test how real human bodies would respond ergonomically and efficiency-wise to new workflows. Next Wave in TrainingMetaverse technology may also be used in industrial training. For example, one maker of welding equipment uses virtual reality (VR) to train workers to use its products. Trainees don VR headsets to do virtual welds. They get immediate feedback on their welds and can reset the virtual system to continue training. This saves the cost of wasted materials that physical training creates.[4] The use of VR is also used in medical training where procedures can be practiced digitally. The Metaverse May Change the Face of IndustryMetaverse technology has the potential to transcend the usual use cases in gaming and entertainment and change the way that business is conducted, even in industrial settings. [1] What is the Industrial Metaverse – and Why Should I Care, Siemens website, Retrieved 2/24/23[2] The Industrial Metaverse: A Game Changer for Operational Technology, MIT Technology Review website, Retrieved 2/24/23[3] Bellamy, Woodrow, Boeing CEO Talks “Digital Twin” Era of Aviation, Avionics International, 9/14/18[4] Dotson, KYT, How the Industrial Metaverse Will Transform Manufacturing, Silicon Angle, 12/24/22 1 min read · 685 views Bong-Geun Choi Jun 26, 2023
Metaverse Real Estate Continues to Boom
Metaverse real estate sales surged during 2022 and are expected to grow through 2026, according to a New York Times article.[1] What are some factors driving virtual real estate sales? How may investors gain exposure to companies that may benefit from the anticipated growth of the metaverse? Virtual Real Estate Sales Have Grown RapidlySales volume of virtual land reached $1.4 billion in 2022. This was a 180% increase over 2021’s sales volume. The metaverse is made up of multiple virtual worlds, with Decentraland and Sandbox being prominent examples. A good portion of 2022’s sales volume, specifically $900 million, came from the creation and sale of newly minted virtual real estate in Otherside, a new virtual world. The Sandbox and Decentraland accounted for 11% and 5% of 2022’s virtual real estate sales, respectively. Factors Driving SalesMany factors that drive real estate sales and values in the digital world also apply to virtual real estate. Supply and demand drive both physical and digital real estate activity. Within the metaverse, there are a finite number of virtual worlds which have been carved into a limited number of parcels. Given the fixed supply of virtual real estate, demand will likely dictate price and value. Additionally, it is often said that the three most important factors in real estate are location, location, location. The same is true of virtual real estate. Prices in virtual real estate are also dictated by location. For example, after Snoop Dogg purchased parcels in the Sandbox and created “Snoopverse,” one buyer paid $450,000 to be his neighbor. Physical Companies Rushing InIn many virtual worlds, companies in the physical world have rushed in to purchase digital land. Global corporations, including Adidas, Atari, and Warner Music Group, have bought spaces to create entertainment, sell goods, launch virtual headquarters, and host immersive gatherings for employees and fans. Physical BuildersCompanies involved in physical real estate are also becoming involved with virtual real estate. In January 2023, U.S. homebuilder KB Homes, launched a community on Decentraland where buyers can enter, explore, and toy with customization options of three of their model homes. One builder in Florida created a virtual twin of an 11,000-square-foot mansion he built and is listing it for sale. Offering Options Not Available in the Real WorldVirtual worlds are not held to real-world physics or laws of science, allowing for the creation of real estate that is distinctive and not achievable in the physical world. The Row, a collection of digital homes, is marked by melting Salvador Dali-esque angles and dreamlike floating spheres. Virtual Real Estate Is Projected to Grow RapidlyVirtual real estate is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 62% over the 2022-2026 period, increasing by $5.37 billion. [1] All data sourced from: Kamin, Debra, The Next Hot Housing Market Is Out of This World. It’s in the Metaverse, The New York times, 2/19/23; 2022 Annual Metaverse Virtual Real Estate Report, Parcel, 1/20/23 1 min read · 745 views Bong-Geun Choi Jun 16, 2023

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A Virtual Real Estate Boom
Real estate sales are booming in the metaverse as investors are spending millions of dollars to acquire virtual tracks of land, according to a Yahoo Finance article [1] . What is behind this boom? How may investors gain exposure to the metaverse? Sales Are BoomingRecently, sales of digital land have totaled in the millions. According to Yahoo Finance, one week of sales in late November 2021 totaled $100 million. What are some factors driving this boom? Location, Location, LocationImitating the physical world, location is crucial in metaverse real estate. The metaverse is made up of multiple virtual worlds. Demand and prices are highest in the most desirable virtual worlds. Sandbox and Decentraland, two popular virtual worlds, saw sales totaling $86 million and $15 million, respectively, during that one week in November. As most virtual real estate transactions are conducted in cryptocurrency, one plot on Fashion Street in Decentraland sold for the equivalent of $2.48 million. In addition, one plot of land in Sandbox sold for a record $4.3 million. [2] ScarcityCreators of virtual worlds only create a finite number of plots. Decentraland has carved out 90,000 parcels measuring 50ft. X 50ft. As these plots are purchased, prices are likely to rise. The Appeal of Digital LandAs the metaverse is built out, more people are joining online communities. As such, they may have a creative desire to express themselves by owning things in these virtual worlds, including land. In several instances, individuals are acquiring virtual “stuff.” This includes, but is not limited to, items used in online games. To store these things, users need digital homes. Online Shopping and EventsRetailers are setting up virtual stores where individuals may purchase goods for both the digital and physical world. Events are held in virtual worlds. Superstars such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and the Weeknd held concerts in virtual worlds. Companies may use their digital real estate for advertising. Virtual world real estate is being snapped up as companies bet that more people will shop and attend events in digital spaces, thus driving up the value of digital land. Becoming a Digital LandlordA lot of companies are buying large tracts of digital space in hopes of renting it out to retailers or event planners. For example, they may construct a virtual mall and rent out stores within that mall. One firm is constructing an 18-story building with plans to lease it to lawyers and cryptocurrency exchanges. As in the real world, zoning rules dominate the metaverse, dictating what can be built and where.1 Bizouati-Kennedy, Yael, Metaverse Virtual Real Estate is Booming: What’s the Appeal?, Yahoo Finance, 12/3/212 Putzier, Konrad, Metaverse Real Estate Piles Up Record Sales in Sandbox and Other Virtual Realms, Wall Street Journal, 11/30/21 1 min read · 2,943 views Bong-Geun Choi Dec 28, 2021
Is the Metaverse the New Frontier for Healthcare?
While it is not entirely built out, elements of the metaverse are being used in both medical training and procedures. As technology advances, the metaverse may offer the potential for significant advances in the field of medicine. Current Metaverse Technologies in UseCurrently, the healthcare industry is utilizing some of the essential components that will ultimately comprise the metaverse, namely, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and artificial intelligence. As these technologies are built out, the medical industry will likely make greater use of them. Virtual TrainingAR and VR are being used extensively in medical training. Examples include:The World Health Organization (WHO) is using AR to train COVID responders, including a training course on the proper techniques and sequences to put on and remove personal protective equipment.Medical schools are using AR and VR to train students to perform a wide range of surgical procedures. AR and VR allow for a 360-degree view of ailment, as well as the replication of real-life procedures. AR and VR technologies may be used to create real-life situations, allowing students to perform virtual procedures without the risk of making mistakes on human subjects. It may allow the assemblance of students from far-flung locations to train in one virtual classroom. Real-Life ProceduresAR and VR systems are being used for activities that support diagnoses and pre-surgical preparation and training. For example, using X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can create an immersive virtual environment that allows a surgical team to devise the procedure before making the first incision and rehearse the surgery beforehand. AR and VR technology is also being used to assist in surgical procedures. Such technology was used in June 2020 in when surgeons at Johns Hopkins used AR in a procedure that inserted six screws in a patient’s spine during a spinal fusion surgery. The surgeons used an AR headset with a see-through eye display that projected images of the patient’s internal anatomy. The surgeon described it as “having a GPS navigator in front of your eyes in a natural way so you don’t have to look at a separate screen to see your patient’s CT scans." Medical Facility DesignAR and VR technology has been used when designing operating rooms. The technology allows visualization of all the people, equipment, and surgical setups for various procedures. This virtual process will allow for optimal design without the need of workers being physically present in the operating room. Moving ForwardMetaverse technology will likely continue to improve. As such, the potential for its use in the medical field will also likely progress. 1 min read · 2,902 views Bong-Geun Choi Jan 01, 2022
The State of NFTs in 2022
NFTs became one of the most popular buzzwords in recent years and won headlines around the world. Between 2020 and 2021, the volume of transactions in the NFT market went from 82 million dollars to 17 billion dollars, a growth of more than 21,000%. In almost one year, NFTs have gone from being a tool used by just a few tech experts to an increasingly popular technology among both companies and individual users. But how much of it is sustainable in the long term? How much of this market really makes sense? Are we experiencing a bubble in the NFT market?In 2022, the NFT market remains heated, with the number of transactions, users, and volume growing rapidly. This is not to say that the market does not have its ups and downs. In fact, 2022 has been marked by the drop in the prices of various collections and, at certain weeks, the drop in the number of transactions. How does the market now differ from the market in 2021, and what can we expect in the next few years? We can analyze these questions in three major spheres: collections and utility, technology, and mass adoption. Collections and UtilityStarting with collections and utility, we are still living the hype of collections focused on profile pictures, and this is a trend that is expected to continue for some time. These collections create NFTs that represent an image that can be used as a profile picture in a social network profile.This type of collection has grown so much because it bridges Web 2.0 (social media, cloud, and platforms) and Web 3.0 (blockchain, smart contracts, and tokens). When someone decides to use an NFT as a profile picture on social media, they are sending a message to their audience that they are a person who is aware of new technologies and a person who is part of this new world. An NFT as a profile picture can also help to send a general message about oneself, just like how clothing, followed pages, and liked posts can act as a means of self-expression. Although people believe that the profile picture hype is wearing off, I believe it is still far from over. Despite large volumes, NFTs have yet to reach mass adoption. Social media is a showcase for users to show who they are and NFTs, in the end, are a powerful form of storytelling. NFT profile pictures are a way for users to tell stories within the online environment, and a lot of people still don’t understand its importance. There is another important point: an NFT simply as a profile picture is probably not enough going forward. In 2021 we saw collections making millions in volume with no real use for their owners. Without utility or great storytelling, 99% of collections will go to zero. From now on, collections should convey the utility they will bring to their owners. For this, it is necessary for the makers of the collection to understand the audience they are attracting, so that the uses make sense to those who purchase the NFTs. This utility of NFTs can be exclusive access to content, new collections, online and offline events, and more. TechnologyThe second point, technology, is one of the hottest trends at the moment. Last year brought a very powerful inflection point for the NFT market and it is seldom seen or discussed. The growth in transaction volumes has attracted not only creators and buyers, but also companies developing adjacent technologies, rarity analysis tools, data aggregators, management tools for NFT communities, and others. This movement is just beginning. This year already shows that there are thousands of talented entrepreneurs building tools for this market. Every new innovation brings the potential for other innovations to emerge and that is exactly what we are witnessing right now. In the coming years, we should expect to see more and more tools emerging to solve the problems and challenges of the NFT market. Mass AdoptionFinally, despite high volumes, the NFT market is still far from mass adoption. This is due to both technical and market education issues. There are many barriers to entry in this market right now and these points need to be addressed: better UX and UI, growth of sidechains, cheaper layer 1 transaction fees, layer 2 with more users, etc. In addition, it is necessary to work on raising awareness so that the general public views this market differently. A majority of people still link the NFT market to environmental issues, speculation, money laundering, get-rich-quick schemes and so on. The entry of new players can also help with mass adoption. Some of the biggest business platforms in the world, such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Amazon, have already started to incorporate or have already announced that they are studying the incorporation of NFTs in their products. Despite the discussions about centralization and decentralization, there is no denying that this will contribute greatly to the mass adoption of NFTs. 2 min read · 2,552 views Tiago Amaral May 30, 2022

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The Metaverse: Evolution, Revolution, Or Both?
Recent news articles have screamed, “the metaverse is dead.”[1] Meta’s recent focus on artificial intelligence (AI) is fueling rumors that it has abandoned its metaverse aspirations.[2] However, we believe that the recent negative sentiment surrounding the metaverse is the result of misplaced expectations. While the metaverse has the potential to be revolutionary, its build-out and adoption is likely to be evolutionary. We also believe that the metaverse does not have a definitive moment when all of a sudden, it’s up and running. The metaverse is “now,” and we are already employing metaverse technology. Companies are already looking at how to employ metaverse technology. Additionally, technology will likely advance to create a more immersive individual experience. Technology Is Usually EvolutionaryMobile technology, e.g., the smartphone or tablets, gives users the capability to access great amounts of information via devices as small as their hands. This technology is quite revolutionary when compared to technology 50 years ago. Yet, this revolution was not instantaneous. Remember, mainframes and PCs were the predecessors to current mobile technology. Likewise, technology will continue to evolve to create a more immersive metaverse experience. Metaverse – Revolutionary Potential or the Next Iteration of the Internet?We would say both. While the internet is essentially a 2-D experience, the metaverse offers the potential for a fully immersive, 3-D environment in which individuals may interact in virtual worlds. It also has the potential to revolutionize how companies interact and do business with other companies and consumers. The Metaverse Is Already HereCritics of the metaverse may fail to understand that is it already here. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies currently exist. Gaming is a prime example of VR technology in action, as many games are currently played in immersive 3-D environments. Many companies are already deploying metaverse strategies. Retail companies are creating virtual stores where consumers may browse and try on items. Concerts have been performed in the metaverse. Even governments are creating virtual town halls. Technology Enabling Metaverse EvolutionTechnologies such as blockchain, Web3, and AI are enabling current metaverse applications. Continued advancement in technology, including smaller and more comfortable VR headsets with greater functionality, will likely foster greater adoption of metaverse technologies. Offering a Potentially Attractive Investment OpportunityThe metaverse may create a potentially attractive investment opportunity for individuals. Morgan Stanley estimates that the metaverse, particularly advertising and e-commerce in the metaverse, represents an $8.3 trillion opportunity to monetize U.S. consumer spending on activities including gaming, music, apparel, and real estate. Additional applications, including virtual entertainment, may offer an additional $5 trillion opportunity.[3] The Metaverse – An Evolutionary RevolutionWe believe that current metaverse technology will continue to advance, creating a evolution that will, in retrospect, revolutionize how business is done globally. [1] Gosh, Sanchari, Metaverse Is Dead! But, Why Hasn’t Market Zuckerberg Announced It Yet?, Mint, 3/3/23[2] Olinga, Luc, Mark Zuckerberg Quietly Buries the Metaverse, The Street, 3/2/23[3] Metaverse: More Evolutionary Than Revolutionary, Morgan Stanley, 2/23/22 1 min read · 706 views Bong-Geun Choi Jun 05, 2023
Are Metaverse Pharmacies the Future?
In March 2022, CVS took steps to launch a pharmacy in the metaverse. During the same month, iMining also took steps to launch a pharmaceutical platform in metaverse virtual world Decentraland. What may pharmacies in the metaverse look like? How can investors gain access to companies that may be poised to benefit from the metaverse? What May a Metaverse Pharmacy Look Like?Many retail companies are already setting up stores and showrooms in the metaverse where consumers, via their personal avatars, may view and browse a company’s physical or digital products and purchase physical or digital goods. Payments may be made through cryptocurrency. Pharmacies would be similar. They would allow individuals to receive many of the same services they receive in a physical pharmacy without having to leave their homes. More Than Just Filling PrescriptionsPatients could consult with a meta-pharmacist to either have their prescriptions filled. But they would also be able to do more. As described in the online periodical HealthNews,[1] a visit to a metaverse pharmacy could look like the following: Enter the virtual pharmacy as a digital avatar and receive medical advice from a virtual pharmacist or meta consultantSelect items or drugs from a virtual shelf and hand them to the meta pharmacistPay for the items/medicine with cryptocurrencies, where the transaction would be recorded in a blockchain and stored in your virtual health recordReceive the items at your physical address, possibly via drone Patients could also get advice from meta-pharmacists on how to monitor their prescriptions, how to take the drugs, receive reminders, and track their medicine. Current InitiativesIn March 2022, CVS filed a with the U.S. Patent Trade Office for a trademark to sell virtual goods and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and to provide healthcare services in the virtual world. The company wants to bring the health services that it offers in its stores to the virtual setting.[2] Also in March, iMining created a new virtual land in Decentraland that includes pharmaceutical services. The service will also allow individuals to fill and renew prescriptions, and to receive online consultations with meta-pharmacists.[3] Some Limitations and ConcernsOf course, not all services performed in physical pharmacies can be performed in virtual space. For example, vaccines could not be administered virtually. Additionally, as with all online endeavors, consumer privacy is always an issue. [1] Vanta, Brindusa, Metaverse Pharmacies: What to Expect, HealthNews, 1/31/23[2] CVS Aims to Be First Pharmacy in the Metaverse, PYMNTS, 3/4/22[3] McCutcheon, Brieanna, iMining Moves Into Decentraland, The Market Herald, 3/24/22 1 min read · 879 views Bong-Geun Choi May 12, 2023
Avatars: Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds
One objective of the metaverse is to create immersive 3D digital worlds in which individuals may interact. Truly realistic representations of humans in these digital worlds is needed to facilitate such an immersive experience. Avatars look to fulfill that need. As technology advances, so will metaverse experiences, increasing the demand for avatars with greater functionality. What may the avatar of the future look like? What Is an Avatar?An avatar is a digital or on-screen representation of individuals in the virtual world. It allows users of metaverse technology to depict themselves in digital worlds. Ability to Customize Current technology allows users to customize their avatar, or the way they depict themselves online. Options such as skin color, body shape, and hair styles are available. Additionally, users may change the appearance of their avatars daily or based on situation, much like individuals in the real world would change clothes and looks for different occasions. Thus, avatars allow metaverse users to depict and express themselves digitally. Is Emotion and Facial Expression Next?Metaverse technology is advancing, allowing for more immersive experiences. Digital town squares are inviting more social interactions among metaverse users, gaming is becoming more interactive, and concerts and other entertainment options are being held virtually. Additionally, applications such as virtual workspaces, conferences, and meetings are facilitating more digital interaction. To facilitate more immersive digital experiences, avatar technology will likely evolve to produce more lifelike on-screen representations. Meta, which was formerly known as Facebook but changed its name to match its metaverse aspirations, is working on new avatar technology that allows for more hyper-realistic digital representations. It is using artificial intelligence (AI), sophisticated modeling, and electromyography to render human features and movement accurately in virtual space.[1] Other avatar technology being worked on includes projecting facial expressions and emotional responses onto the avatar. Technology companies are looking at ways to capture real-time facial expressions from a user’s camera and translate it onto the avatar. These changes may allow for richer, more immersive metaverse experiences. The Importance of AvatarsAvatars allow users to manifest themselves visually in a virtual world. Advances in avatar technology may allow for more immersive experiences. One example is in a virtual workspace where more realistic avatars capable of expressing emotion and facial expressions may help to facilitate greater participation and communication, mimicking the real-world work environment more closely. Avatars may also make users feel like they are truly present in the virtual world, facilitate greater interaction, and create fluid and seamless movement within and between digital worlds. Improving avatar technology may facilitate a better metaverse experience. [1] Cureton, Demond, The Role of the Avatar in the Metaverse, XR Today, 12/15/22; Greener, Rory, Meta Quest Pro to Leverage Interoperable Immersive Services, XR Today, 10/24/22 1 min read · 777 views Bong-Geun Choi May 01, 2023

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Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee the Funds will achieve their stated objectives. In addition to the normal risks associated with investing, international investments may involve the risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuation in currency values, differences in generally accepted accounting principles, or social, economic, or political instability in other nations. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors, as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume. 

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