The internet is ingrained in every aspect of our daily lives, but it’s difficult to imagine it as an iterative, evolving entity. However, what began as a purely PC and browser-based Web 1.0 evolved in recent decades to include mobile apps, connected devices, and countless other internet-enabled technologies that constitute our current Web 2.0.
As we survey the present landscape of technological innovation, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re at the dawn of a new age of the internet, colloquially known as Web 3.0 or Web3. Web3 broadly refers to a more decentralized version of the internet; one that reinvents the basic principles of commerce, structuring value and ownership around concepts like the blockchain and token-based currencies.
Web3 is also a collection of different environments and settings. Though still in the early stages, these different worlds work as defined ecosystems where users can engage in many of the same activities they would in the real world; socializing, shopping, entertainment, and more.
The breakthroughs made in augmented reality and artificial intelligence are a cornerstone of this new Web3 reality. AR, VR, and AI provide the conduit for users to enter and navigate these virtual worlds. And, as we look to the future, it’s going to be increasingly important for brands to understand this changing landscape and how the consumer journey will change in Web3.
Digging Deeper Into Web 3.0
As with any emerging technology, the exact utility and terminology remain an evolving conversation among industry experts and technofuturists. In short, everyone sees a different mode of potential with Web3, but everyone’s terms are still loosely defined.
“I think there's consensus that it's the next generation of the internet,” says Ori Inbar, Founder of Super Ventures and AWE. “I think we all agree on that. But then you have two different camps: You have the crypto camp, which thinks that this is an opportunity to change society to use technology to change capitalism, if you will, by creating a more decentralized system. The other camp, the AR and VR camp, my camp, says Web3 is about making the internet spatial.”
Within this more spatial iteration of the internet, according to Inbar, the digital spaces we occupy will behave as an analog to the physical world. The objects we hold can be manipulated digitally in the same way they would physically.
From a retail and brand perspective, Web3 presents a world of possibilities for digital identity and fluidity.
“The one part that I love about this whole concept is that it changes the way consumers are engaging in commerce today because of the ownership,” says Chris Silver, Co-founder and CEO of BambuMeta. “It's the person maintaining the ownership. It's their universal traveling profile, and they take it with them. This is the first glimpse of this technology that allows for that frictionless user no matter where they engage because it's connecting them with the products they love—with the brands they love—on their own terms because they're maintaining their own ownership.”
How AR Trends are Enabling a New Web3 Ecosystem
The concept of the Metaverse is a wonderful theory, but without the technology to enable it, or the buy-in from users to engage with it, there isn’t much utility for Web3. As AR, AI, and VR have continued to evolve, however, users now have a clear conduit for this new reality.
“That maturity of the tech and the fact they have today over 1.5 billion people using AR and VR on a regular basis, that's incredible,” says Inbar. “Just a couple of years ago, it was unheard of. It took 15 years for this technology to become an overnight success. But I think we're there right now. We're definitely entering the mainstream.”
The rapid evolution of AR technology is enabling countless use cases that wouldn’t have been imagined 10 years ago. Content creators and brands are leveraging the maturity of this advanced technology to better engage with consumers across metaverse channels as well as real-world channels and more traditional Web 2.0 channels with relevant, engaging content.
Understanding Consumer Experience and Values Through Interactive AR & VR Lenses
Brands are only beginning to understand the consumer journey through this new lens of Web3. As AR and VR evolve, their utility within Web3 and the Metaverse will become increasingly innovative.
Some of these applications are already being seen today: through AR and virtual try-on, consumers are able to forge deeper connections with brands and products from the comfort of their own homes. This digital experience is then being merged with in-store shopping, which is creating entirely new avenues of omnichannel customer journeys.
As more consumers begin adopting AR and VR and incorporating the technology into their everyday lives, that in turn creates more actionable data for brands to leverage. Seeing how customers are using products and tracing that experience can enable brands to create better tutorials and educational content playing off of the strengths of AR and VR.
While there are still many unanswered questions surrounding Web3, the Metaverse, NFTs and more—including some questions about sustainability—as brands explore this new technology they’re beginning to grasp its true utility. With more consumers valuing sustainability initiatives, brands can further develop these technologies with those tenets in mind.
It’s an exciting time for brands and Web3. The future is still unwritten when it comes to these new frontiers; but one thing is certain: with new worlds come new opportunities to engage and delight consumers.
To learn more about AI, AR and the world of Web3, watch Perfect Corp.’s session “Understanding Your Brand’s Potential in Web3” from the 2022 Global Beauty and Fashion Tech Forum here
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