On a normal day in Times Square in the heart of New York City, people can see glowing billboard ads for all sorts of businesses and brands. In early November, the screens were covered in Bored Apes, Crypto Punks, and Cool Cats; avatar NFT projects that have become incredibly popular and becoming more and more exclusive by the day.
That’s because a little over a week ago, New York City hosted NFT.NYC, the leading annual non-fungible token event. Artists, developers, creators, and designers at the forefront of the growing NFT space gathered in Gotham City for the annual event.
The exclusivity of these NFT projects appeal to many people. They provide a community and a sense of belonging should you have one of these NFTs in your wallet. Ownership of these NFTs also provide access to some of the satellite events. For example, The Bored Ape Yacht Club event was exclusive to owners that could bring a +1.
Although avatar projects are still on the rise, the real energy of the conference was in a newer concept of NFTs: utility. Looking beyond community and access, there is untapped potential in imbuing NFTs with the ability to provide their owners with something useful. Gaming is low-hanging fruit here. In-game items, such as characters and weapons, can be wrapped into an NFT. Owning the NFT can provide usefulness to the player. Leveling up a character can increase the value of that NFT and finally, the NFT can be traded or sold to other players on a marketplace.
This is just one small example of how NFT creators are using their imaginations to expand the use-case for NFTs. One company, Alathea AI, is creating what they’re calling iNFTs (or intelligent NFTs) that can be seeded with artificial intelligence. Users can talk with these iNFTs and receive intelligent responses. Some examples include To The Young Artists of Cyberspace — Robert Alice & Alethea AI and Alethea AI.
The utility of NFTs was also tested at the conference. For example, using NFTs as event tickets. An NFT art gallery at Dreamverse was only accessible if users purchased an NFT ticket and hosted it on a MetaMask wallet. At the time of purchase, the NFT received is a black and white piece of art. When the user scans their wallet for entrance into the event, the NFT artwork becomes fully colored and the user is allowed to enter the event.
The final days of the conference concluded with less flashy talks about how NFTs fit into the current legal landscape as well as how NFTs will change that landscape. Law consultants pitched their services to NFT creators. To me, this speaks volumes about the growing NFT space and how professionals from less tech-heavy industries are beginning to take notice.
Spending a week in New York and rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest minds in the NFT space was incredibly fulfilling and exciting. The metaverse is coming and it felt like NFT.NYC and Times Square opened a portal into it for the week. I will not be surprised to see conferences like this begin to take off in some of the greater metropolitan cities around the world.