Building the Phygital Future: NFTs for Real-World Assets
The future of all things physical is PHYGITAL
Trust forms the basis of our global society. Trust makes people feel safe and belong to groups, which allows us to live and work together. In a business setting, contracts solidify trust to ensure predictable business engagements. Our personal lives— families, friendships, and relationships— are all built on trust. When trust is breached, relationships cannot exist, whether it be with a significant other or a brand.
Physical assets, as they are today, are largely untrustworthy. We often do not know whether the product we own is genuine or counterfeit. We trust that the vendor or brand is selling authentic products as they are advertised. In reality, not even the retailers know whether these products are authentic. This applies to both high-priced items, like designer fashion, and low-cost items, like olive oil. A noteworthy example of physical assets being inherently untrustworthy comes from the art world.
Made You Look movie poster. The movie documents the largest art fraud in American history.
Ann Freedman, the director of the oldest private gallery in New York City, was sued for allowing the sales of fake paintings. These fakes were forged in the styles of prominent abstract expressionist painters like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. For over 15 years, Freedman oversaw the sales of roughly $80 million worth of counterfeit artwork.
Even in an industry as old and expensive as art, even the most trained eyes can be fooled by untrustworthy physical assets that are nearly impossible to verify.
Real items has created a solution to this problem by creating the future of product security and accountability - Phygitals. We'll dive more into the Metaverse later, but first, what is a phygital?
When we talk about phygitals, we speak of a future where every physical object is digitally connected to the internet and the blockchain. A phygital is a smart product integrated with an NFT, allowing for extensibility and composability on the everyday products. Digital services previously could not be built on top of physical products due to a lack of trust. Phygitals are here to change that.
Because of the open-source nature of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, Real Items is able to create applications and services for physical things, such as protocols. Imagine you've purchased an expensive car — as a phygital. This car would “sit” both in your driveway and in your digital wallet. Using your car in your digital wallet gives you the ability to extend the warranty, rent it out to a stranger, collateralize the car for a financial application, or perhaps even drive the same car in the digital realm beyond the universe —all without the need of a middleman facilitating these transactions. No more Uber, Wells Fargo, or other centralized businesses getting in the way of providing you a service.
We at Real Items describe phygitals as a number of things—from smart products to trusted physical assets. On the old internet, Web2, which most of the public is still using today, we buy things online. The New internet, Web3, exists on blockchain networks, is where we and many others are building the future, where we buy online things. We’re phygitizing the Earth.
Metaverse gaming world. Photo grabbed from Coindesk.
Science fiction has shaped our ideas of a future where we live in a combined physical and digital realm. That realm is now a reality called "The Metaverse.” While Forbes agrees that the definition and possibilities of the Metaverse are constantly evolving, Real Items has been a key contributor in its form since 2017. The Metaverse is the creative playground of humanity in a globally shared, digital space that will blur the lines between what is real and what is make-believe. To help accelerate the adoption and advent of this new internet paradigm shift, Real Items has paired physical products with a digital twin, or NFT, which are 3D models of your physical products. You can easily bring these products to the Metaverse and interact with it digitally.
Phygital guitar with a QR code that gives owners access to its NFT. With the right integration, you can easily bring your favorite guitar to the Metaverse!
Phygitals are expanding the capabilities of products as they are today, by adding a trusted digital layer to products using blockchain and NFTs. This digital layer allows you to interact with applications and experiences built on top of the physical products you own,dissolving the lines between our physical world and digital worlds. As more and more of the physical goods we buy are available in the metaverse, the Metaverse will become more and more an extension of our physical reality. As Steven Spielberg once put it, “Virtual reality will be a super drug.”
These digitals worlds will allow us to engage with the products we know and love in new and creative ways. We will want to shop in the Metaverse and go to the Metamall to purchase phygitals. Online shopping, alone, and on our phones, will become a thing of the past. We will shop for phygitals with other digital avatars in a shared space, and the phygitals we purchase in the Metaverse will be delivered to our physical homes.
Spielberg's sci-fi future is not far away. Unlike what most have in mind, the Phygital future won’t happen in one massive explosion. Instead, much like exponential technologies, it will slowly embed itself deep in the foundation of our lives.
Phygitals in Retail and Augmented Reality
Phygitals are essential to the survival of brick-and-mortar retail. This sector has struggled against the rising tide of eCommerce, and phygitals prove to be a retail store’s lifeline in improving marketing strategy.
A great example of this is Amazon’s excellent use of augmented reality (AR) tools for customers to see what furniture looks like inside their homes. The use of this technology delivers a seamless and personalized retail customer experience. This experience of digital items in our physical homes is an example of a phygital experience.
Amazon customers can now feel like they are in complete control of their options through the expanded AR capabilities to add, customize, and arrange dozens of pieces of furniture in the same room. They can save these designs and edit them using a mobile phone or desktop. This saves time and reduces the customer’s worry that a piece of furniture would be too big or not fit with the overall style of their home.
Another example is in the innovations of computational fabrics. Yoel Fink, a professor of MIT and founder of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America with a team at MIT, created the world's first backpack functioning as a Fiber Computer, a “fabrics as a service” product. Being in close proximity to this backpack allows you to get instant access to information that a person wants to share with their community. This idea of the merging of physical with digital is the intersection of phygital that Real Items sits at…who knows. Maybe we’ll enter this field someday. Phygital fiber computers anyone?
1,100 Freshmen at MIT in 2017 all receiving complementary computational fiber backpacks. Photo by MIT.
Additionally, Real Items has incorporated a special feature into phygitals—the ability for customers to add “memories” to an NFT using the Real Items digital wallet. Similar to the way one engages with the Fiber Computers above, but instead of the tech to scan and engage being in the fibers of a physical good themselves, we use special smart contract enabled chips or QR codes to access NFT data and memories. These memories can be made in the form of text, images, or videos. They also include the coordinates and date of when you input the memory. And the best part? These memories will live on forever in the blockchain. Imagine being able to pass on a family heirloom that gives your grandchildren’s children access to priceless moments in your life. Phygitals will allow us a lifelong story and legacy to live on through people’s most prized possessions.
TILL BLOCKCHAIN DO US PART. Visual representation of Real Items memories paired to a wedding ring.
Phygitals open various new options for Virtual showrooms,such as exhibiting more frequently, showcasing more models, servicing more customers, all while reducing exhibition costs.
Aside from cutting costs, customers can also benefit from this digitization. Customers can avoid the stress of the haggling ritual by interacting with online platforms that handle the end to end transactional process. The phygital application in the automotive industry enhances customer experience, which is critical to a company’s success.
If you’re thinking about reselling your car in the future, turning it into a phygital will also help ease that process. A phygital’s NFT can contain just about any information about the physical car, including its maintenance reports and driving history. Because the collected data is on the blockchain, it is tamper-resistant and cannot be altered. Phygitizing your car will make it easier to transfer information to the next owner, and it would be the most trusted way to sell your car because the buyer can see every detail of it.
If you’re reading about the phygital future and are interested in the digital world, chances are you also play online games (Hey, we also play online games!). If you’re a Twitch streamer who wants to sell merchandise, you should definitely look into opening a phygital store where you can sell physical clothes that your in-game avatar can also wear. Not sure what a phygital store looks like? Check out the Real Items phygital store, where we sell shirts for both you and your Roblox avatar.
Real Items Phygital shirt paired with an NFT that you can integrate into your Roblox account.
The Real Items team loves to build, and welcomes game developers who want to integrate phygitals into their games. Whether you’re developing an RPG, a MOBA, or an FPS game, incorporating Real Items’ technology into your platform allows you to create custom clothing for your character. Start taking cosplay to another level and get in touch with our passionate and dedicated team here.
Transferring property is labor-intensive and expensive. Turning real estate into phygitals can ease this process. All necessary data on a property—reports, disclosures, images, and even videos can be stored in one NFT. This compiles all required information in a single database that can easily be accessed. Because NFTs use blockchain technology, they are inherently tamper-resistant, making the transfer of property and information secure and undeniable. Phygitals are also proof of ownership. Whoever has possession of the NFT legally owns the property.
According to Forbes, it is much easier to transfer real estate property rights without triggering the securities law violation. By turning the property into a phygital, its NFT can be placed into an online marketplace where potential buyers can bid for the property. Phygitals open new platforms for real estate transactions, which make reselling property more straightforward, efficient, and cheaper.
Another layer of security that can be added into real estate phygitals is smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts that directly write the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller into lines of code. Its transactions are traceable, transparent, and irreversible.
Smart contracts are automated and set to instantly send money to the seller when the respective land register is placed in its database. The process is automated and only happens when both parties have fulfilled the terms of the agreement. Smart contracts essentially consolidate all the functions of notaries and brokers into one autonomous mechanism. In a nutshell, a smart contract integrated into a phygital replaces middlemen in a land sale transaction, which saves buyers a significant amount of time and fees.
Amazon and automotive companies have shown that physical products can have digital versions to improve user experience. But what about the everyday things? What if you want to have a digital version of your favorite products?
Visual representation of doTERRA essential oils Phygital.
Pairing physical products with a digital identity comes with various advantages. For one, end-consumers can personally verify if a product is authentic by simply scanning the smart label or QR code attached to each product’s packaging. After buying the product and claiming ownership of the digital identity, the owner gets full access to the unique content that comes with the NFT. The digital identity includes essential information such as proof of origin, recycling manuals, and Certificate of Authenticity (CoA).
Allowing customers to verify a product’s authenticity leads to security and peace of mind. Our technology and labels are built for secure proof of authenticity and ownership. Would you want to give counterfeit medicine or baby products to your family? Neither would we.
You might be wondering, “Can’t the QR codes or digital identities be faked?”
The answer is simple: No.
Real Items smart labels are secured using a 2-Factor Authentication. This means that each QR code comes with a one-time PIN. Once claimed by the original owner, the PIN can never be used again. The Real Items app will deny any attempt to reuse or counterfeit the smart labels.
NFTs are also inherently tamper-resistant because of blockchain technology. The blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions. It is also decentralized, meaning no central authority controls it, and there is no single point of failure. Blockchain’s decentralization, coupled with its transparency, significantly improves supply chain efficiency. This is especially useful for enterprises that struggle with traceability and trust within their supply chains.
When it comes to cross-border transactions, phygitals make it easier to move products globally. One such example is transporting PPE at the height of the pandemic. Tricol Clean, a premium microfiber company, faced regulation challenges that blocked their ability to expand to international markets. Based in Shandong, China, Tricol had to prove that its products were authentic and met the highest filtration standards.
Tricol Clean leveraged Real Items’ blockchain solution and turned their KN95 masks into phygitals. Now paired with a digital twin or NFT, customers can verify each mask’s origin and certifications personally. Equipped with the ability to prove that they only use quality materials, Tricol Clean’s PPE now easily, safely, and securely protects customers around the world.
Tricol Clean KN95 mask with a Real Items smart label (QR code). Simply scan the QR code and input the one-time pin (OTP) to take digital ownership of the product.
Whether you own a large enterprise, a small business/Shopify store, or are someone who wants to experience the best that technology has to offer, Real Items is for you.
And have we mentioned we’re phygitizing Jeff Hamilton’s jackets including the one that Kobe Bryant wore for his NBA Championship win? It’s a special piece of history in the sports world. We’ll be combining smart contract chip technology on our end with Jeff's Signature and iconic jackets. Wonder which one it will be? We're not revealing yet, but we can't wait to show you what else we have in store. That smart contract chip technology we mentioned? It connects NFTs to physical things and is another surprise we have in store for our phygital customers…
Silicon-Locked Smart Contract Chip
We are building this world one secured brand at a time. If you align and see value in what we’re creating, join us on Discord! We love getting feedback and ideas from our incredible community. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information. If you’re a business owner who’d like to apply this technology to your products, you can book a free demo with our dedicated team HERE.
Real Items envisions a world where everything has a digital identity. We see a future where all products are trustworthy. You can be a spectator, or you can be a player. The choice is yours. But one thing is sure— the phygital world is here.