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How The Metaverse Will Reshape E-Commerce Forever

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By Nick Heethuis, founder of TripleShot Marketing, an Amazon marketing agency helping brands launch and grow on Amazon.

Since the technology to purchase goods over the internet was first introduced, there has been a divide between the real world and the digital world. 

Buying goods in traditional brick-and-mortar stores gives shoppers the ability to physically touch or try on products prior to purchasing. E-commerce shopping forgoes the physical aspect of traditional brick-and-mortar shopping, but it offers unprecedented convenience, speed and access. 

The Metaverse is where these two previously separate worlds of commerce converge to create an experience that will redefine e-commerce forever. 

What Is The Metaverse?

The metaverse is the combination of several technological innovations that all operate seamlessly together. From NFTs to social commerce to augmented and virtual reality, the metaverse brings technology out of the digital arena and into the physical world. 

While we are still only just beginning to discover the ways these technologies will impact our lives, the metaverse has already begun to establish itself as the next frontier in the digital economy.

It’s Already Started

The very early stages of e-commerce in the metaverse are already here. 

E-commerce giant Amazon has incorporated early metaverse technology into its marketplace. Its newest AR shopping tool, Room Decorator, allows you to use your phone or tablet to see what furniture and other home décor will look like in your space. You can view multiple products together, and even save the AR snapshots of your room to review later.

Warby Parker has a virtual try-on app that allows you to try on every pair of frames in its product catalog before buying. This enables you to buy its products online without having to take a leap of faith as to the product’s fit for your face.

As these emerging technologies develop, they will continue to reshape the way we think of e-commerce.

Merging Offline And Online Commerce

E-commerce in the metaverse is certain to accelerate in the coming years. As the technology and adoption of the technology grow, it will usher in even more new features that merge offline shopping with online shopping. 

The growing popularity of augmented reality technology allows consumers to be fully confident in the quality and fit of a product prior to purchasing. This helps shoppers from a convenience standpoint, but it also helps merchants reduce returns and broaden their customer base.

Product discovery and personalization will also accelerate. Metaverse technology will allow brands to offer shoppers a highly personalized digital experience. The metaverse will be a seamless experience that makes it easier for shoppers to find exactly what they want, exactly when they want it. And unlike the current limitations of personalized digital shopping experiences, the metaverse will enable brands to customize the shopping experience at scale to reach more shoppers than ever before.

Community Building

The divide between social media and e-commerce will continue to close in the metaverse. Social proof is already at the core of e-commerce, as seen in the importance of Amazon reviews and other online product reviews. In the metaverse, brands will be able to take social proof beyond just a star review by building engaging communities that allow customers to engage with the brand itself and other fans of the brand. 

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are another key element to the metaverse. Brands will be able to use NFTs for several unique purposes to improve the shopping experience. NFTs will be used to create entirely new digital products. They will also be used as receipts, an access pass to special events or even early access to new product launches. NFTs can be used for an array of VIP opportunities for a brand’s most passionate customers and brand advocates. 

We’ve just scratched the surface of the ways technology will reshape e-commerce. As these technologies evolve, and the lines between the physical and digital world blur, e-commerce as we know it will begin to exist almost entirely in the metaverse.

Startups

Down rounds are still rare by historical standards • TechCrunch

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If you thought that the recent venture capital market was tough, let me tell you about 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

With the first week of December under our belts, we’re not too far away from the end of the year. And that means that 2022’s venture capital story has largely been written. It’s not a single narrative; instead, this year started on a high, with momentum from the monstrous 2021 funding period persisting into the new year. From that point, we’ve seen a slowdown accelerate into what some consider a downturn.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Startups raised lots of capital this year. Less, yes, than last year, but more than in nearly any year in recent memory. It’s still a good time to build a tech upstart.

Does that perspective feel too sunny when we hear so much doom and gloom on Twitter regarding startup prospects in a more conservative investing climate?

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Howie Mandel gets a digital twin from DeepBrain AI

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Howie Mandel is stepping into the metaverse. DeepBrain AI has created a pretty realistic AI version of comedian and actor Mandel.

Deepbrain AI, based in South Korea and Palo Alto, California, calls its creation “AI Howie,” and it’s an interactive virtual human and digital twin for immersive and personalized fan experiences. AI Howie mentions VentureBeat and talks to me in the attached videos.

Unlike the “deepfakes” of Tom Cruise and other actors, the real Howie Mandel cooperated with DeepBrain AI to create the virtual human AI replica of the famous comedian, actor, host, and technology enthusiast. We used “virtual Paris” AI character at our recent MetaBeat event in San Francisco.

“I am equally thrilled, excited, and terrified to finally have the ability of showing up and doing things without going anywhere or doing anything,” said Mandel, in a statement. “Thank you, DeepBrain.”

DeepBrain AI applies deep learning technology to create hyper-realistic virtual humans through its AI Studios and the AI Human platforms. These virtual humans are digital twins of the real person, with the same appearance, voice, gestures, and subtle mannerisms. The AI Studios platform enables script-to-video software that synthesizes dynamic video content in seconds, producing the quickest and most
realistic AI-generated videos. The script-to-video editor makes it easy for customers to select a model and then make it say something based on a script. Within a minute or so the video is made.

This is a powerful communication and marketing tool for celebrities, professional athletes, news anchors, and even politicians. Before working with Howie Mandel, the DeepBrain AI team created digital twins of Premier League soccer superstar Son Heung-Min, multiple news anchors across Asia, and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol.

Joe Murphy, business development manager for DeepBrain AI, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the virtual Howie is a conversational model that you pepper with questions. DeepBrain AI designs and develops these virtual humans for the purpose of creating digital twins (like Howie Mandel), digital people, and avatars.

It takes about four weeks of machine learning work to create a Howie Mandel digital twin.

“We create models of real people,” Murphy said. “We also have completely synthetic virtual humans. That is what we’ll call digital people. And then avatars are just the basic Roblox type of avatars. But where our technology comes in with the digital twins is we go through a deep learning process to clone the person’s voice, their mannerisms, their face, the way their eyes move, the way their lips move.”

He added, “So we create what we call the digital twin of the real person with all the uniqueness of that person. Our mission is to use this technology that we’ve developed throughout Asia and bring it to America.”

In addition to the script-to-video capabilities, the company provides fully conversational experiences with its AI Human software. The AI Human solution enables fans to interact and engage with AI Howie by simply asking questions. For example, when asked, “What was your favorite act on AGT this season?” the AI Howie model responds in real-time to support interactive, fun, and engaging fan experiences.

AI Humans are available within mobile apps, web browsers, or voice-activated kiosks.

“Our vision is to humanize digital experiences and empower creative teams to generate immersive content at scale,” said Eric Jang, DeepBrain AI CEO. “Working with Howie Mandel was a fun experience, and we are excited to see how the AI Howie collaboration will connect with his fans worldwide.”

DeepBrain AI, (formerly Moneybrain), a conversational AI startup based in Seoul, South Korea, has raised $44 million in a series B round led by Korea Development Bank at a post-money valuation of $180 million. The company started in 2016 and it has raised $54 million to date. The company has 130 employees.

The AI is being used for AI news anchors in South Korea and China at four different television networks. The networks flag that the anchor is an AI avatar so that no one gets confused.

The real Howie Mandel spent about a day shooting video with DeepBrain AI.

While multiple companies are working on virtual humans, DeepBrain AI’s avatars are hyperrealistic. One of Asia’s largest insurance companies is also using it, as is a “brand ambassador” for a soccer team.

“When we worked with Howie Mandel, we went down to his studio in Los Angeles, we provided a script, and fed our training data into our neural network,” Murphy said.

It took about a day to do a video shoot with Mandel and about three to four weeks of machine learning time on the computers to generate the first AI model.

Back in January, DeepBrain AI opened its office in Palo Alto, California, and it is talking to partners in Silicon Valley and the rest of the U.S. Over time, Murphy said that the hope is to create AI avatars in realistic 3D for the metaverse. In South Korea, kiosks are appearing in places like banks with both 2D avatars and 3D avatars.

Over time, Murphy said the avatars have gotten better at mannerisms, lip sync, and subtle gestures. The speed of real-time responses in conversations has also gotten faster. The company is talking about doing more with game companies and major brands.

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This Doggy DNA Test Ships Free for the Holidays

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every pet owner wants the best for their animal sidekick. They want to spend as much time as possible with them, even at the office. But being the best dog owner you can be isn’t all about just being present. It helps to understand your dog on a genotypic as well as phenotypic level. That’s one reason why doggy DNA tests have become so popular.



DNA My Dog

If you’re wondering what to get for your pooch this holiday season, look no further than the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test. If you order by December 8, you’ll get free shipping, but that date is coming up fast so don’t delay.

This simple, painless kit requires just a swab of your dog’s cheek to get a detailed report delivered in two weeks or less. That report includes a custom photo certificate of the breed breakdown found in your dog’s genetic breed composition, a percentage breakdown of the levels found in your dog’s DNA, and a report on the dominant breeds, personality traits, and health concerns that your dog may be genetically predisposed to. All of that information will help you be a better friend to your dog, making smarter decisions about food, training, and healthcare.

The DNA My Dog Kit was awarded at the 2020 GHO Biotechnology Awards and user Bonnie H. writes, “I loved this experience!!! The kit came immediately with great instructions. The results came exactly when promised. When I couldn’t open the attachment with the results, I emailed my concern and got instant help! To find out his DNA has been the coolest experience!”

Lock in free shipping on a unique gift for your dog by December 8. Grab the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test on sale for 24% off $79 at just $59.99 now.

Prices subject to change.

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