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This Week in the Metaverse: Puma pounces on web3 and Isis NFTs discovered

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By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

September 8, 2022 | 7 min read

Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:

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An avatar of model Ganna Bogden, created by Photogenics / Photogenics

Meta teases new VR headset

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Meta announced that its ninth annual Connect Conference has been scheduled for October 11 at 1pm ET. The virtual event will be livestreamed from Reality Labs’ (Meta’s virtual reality [VR] division) Facebook page. Its blog post notes that this year’s conference will “kick things off with a can’t-miss keynote including leaders in the VR, augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) space, followed by on-demand developer breakout sessions.”

Last month, Meta’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg confirmed during his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience that the company’s latest VR headset, codenamed ‘Project Cambria,’ will be released in October. It’s unclear at this point whether or not the big reveal will be made at Connect, though a photo published to Zuck’s Instagram page on Tuesday – showing him behind a pair of VR goggles that look tantalizingly similar to Project Cambria – suggests that it will be.

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Puma unveils first web3 experience at New York Fashion Week

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Sports footwear brand Puma is following in the footsteps of some of its most prominent competitors – including Adidas and Nike – by launching ‘Black Station,’ a branded web3 experience that includes exclusive NFTs and two new models of IRL sneakers. The new campaign debuted during the brand’s ‘Futrograde’ show during New York Fashion Week.

“Puma Black Station has been imagined as an immersive and interactive place to experience the future of the brand,” Puma wrote in a press release. “As a blank and ever-evolving 3D canvas, Black Station will become a dynamic destination to visit, connecting consumers with various web3 activations emerging over the course of the next year and beyond.”

The Black Station project is accessible via “a hyper-realistic digital lobby space” that contains three “portals.” The first two, which went live on Wednesday, will reveal Puma’s new Nitro Fastroid and Nitro NFRNO sneakers, both of which are linked to the brand’s Nitropass NFT drop. Portal number three “will function as the entry to the digital NYFW metaverse fashion show,” per the brand.

Modeling agency launches an avatar division

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Modeling agency Photogenics has created an ‘avatar division’ in collaboration with flesh-and-blood models. According to a press release, the division “provides opportunities for artists and brands to explore and push the boundaries through a digital lens while reimagining how models can monetize their careers beyond the physical world.” The avatars are generated using face-scanning technology and an image stitching algorithm.

“Once created, clients and brands worldwide are able to utilize these avatars for shoots, drops, wearables, events and modeling jobs within the metaverse, eliminating the cost and hassle associated with booking flights or accommodating travel,” the agency said in the press release. Each model will be compensated whenever their avatar is used in a project.

NFTs linked to Isis discovered

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For the first time, US intelligence experts believe they have discovered evidence that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is leveraging NFTs as potential recruitment and fundraising tools. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, a digital token called ‘IS-NEWS #01’ displays the emblem of Isis and “was created by a supporter of the group.” Though it apparently hasn’t been traded, the fact that it was created on the blockchain means that it’s virtually immune to censorship or removal. Two other NFTs from the same user, both of which also appear to be connected with Isis, were also found.

The discovery of the NFTs has heightened concerns that blockchain technology could provide a conduit for criminals to skirt financial sanctions and broadcast propaganda, despite best efforts from governments to silence them.

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The NBA continues its web3 push with new Sorare partnership

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Web3 brand Sorare has announced an upcoming fantasy basketball game that will compete with Dapper Labs’ well-loved Top Shot. Sorare’s new game is being produced in partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA). Sorare is based on the Ethereum blockchain and first entered the web3 scene as a platform for trading digital professional soccer trading cards. It also recently released a game in collaboration with Major League Baseball (MLB).

The NBA’s partnership with Dapper Labs – which led to the launch of Top Shot in 2020 – was its first major foray into web3. Since then, it has continued to remain bullish on the emerging tech scene, apparently eager to attract a younger audience. In October 2021, for example, the organization – along with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) – inked a deal with crypto exchange company Coinbase.

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