Theta Labs, operator of the blockchain-based video streaming platform Theta, is teaming up with Sony to launch two types of 3D NFTs specially designed for use with the Sony Spatial Reality Display (SRD).
Sony’s SRD, a tablet-like device that displays three-dimensional visuals in semi-physical augmented reality, permits users to view and manipulate 3D objects without the use of glasses or other accessories. The SRD display tracks eye movement, pivoting the image in sync as the viewer tilts or moves their head in any direction, creating the sensation of a solid 3D object. The NFTs launched by Theta and Sony will thus be viewable and manipulable on the SRD in mixed reality 3D, without the assistance of eye accessories.
One of the two SRD-enabled NFTs, a Tiki mask called “The Tiki Guy,” will be limited-edition: only 10 “Tiki Guy” NFTs will be created. However, owners of the NFT with a U.S. shipping address will receive a free Sony SRD. The SRD currently sells for $5,000 per unit.
The NFTs will be released on ThetaDrop, Theta Labs’ NFT marketplace, which previously released Katy Perry’s first NFT collection, as well as promotional NFT collections for the World Poker Tour, singing competition “American Idol”, and game show “The Price is Right.”
The NFT launch is intended to kickstart integration of the SRD into more projects designed for the metaverse: a future, more immersive version of the internet that people may use to work, play, and socialize in augmented and virtual environments. “Immersive, three-dimensional NFTs are a great way to showcase the potential of Sony’s Spatial Reality Display for metaverse enthusiasts and collectors,” Nick Colsey, Sony’s VP of business development, said in a press release.
“Theta’s NFTs are just the latest way we can show our rapid adoption of metaverse-friendly technology,” he said. This marks a public-facing shift in Sony’s marketing of the SRD; since its launch in late 2020, the device has primarily been touted as an industry development tool for designers, artists, and engineers.
Technology experts have noted that one of the greatest hurdles facing the metaverse is the creation of devices that allows users to seamlessly immerse themselves in digital worlds without reliance on overly-cumbersome or expensive hardware. Some NFT companies have attempted to harness smartphone technology to solve this issue, in augmented reality (AR). Devices such as Sony’s SRD could be part of the solution by providing a bridge between physical and digital worlds; but as the Theta/Sony NFT drop’s hardware giveaway implies, the device’s $5,000 price tag could be prohibitively expensive to casual users.
Another debate dominating discourse on the potential of the metaverse pertains to interoperability: the ability for digital objects such as NFTs to freely traverse the many platforms and formats that will comprise the metaverse. The Theta and Sony NFTs, for example, only function on the Sony SRD. If future owners of these NFTs want to display them in 2D on their Twitter account or desktop, they’ll have to repurchase 2D versions of the same NFTs from Theta for an additional fee.