The New York Times dubbed 2020 “the year of blur,” referring to a warped concept of time during a year of monotony and isolation. But it was the year of blur in another sense, too: coming out of 2020, the distinction between online and offline life is more hazy than ever. As Krista Kim, the contemporary artist behind the world’s first digital house, told CNBC, “we will be living in an augmented reality lifestyle within a very short period.”

Below, we round up the top five recent activations in augmented living.

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Mars House. Images courtesy of Krista Kim
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  • The virtual real estate market is heating up. Mars House, the world’s NFT digital home, sold for $500,000 in March 2021. “It is a sign of things to come, as we enter an AR interfaced future,” Mars House creator Krista Kim told CNBC. “How we will live with digital assets…will create a global paradigm shift.”
  • New funds are inviting investors to purchase and develop virtual property. Holding company Metaverse Group announced plans to launch Metaverse REIT, a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused solely on virtual land assets, on March 18. The same week, Republic Real Estate announced Republic Realm, a professionally managed, diversified digital real estate NFT investment fund. “Buying land today in virtual worlds may end up feeling a lot like buying land in Manhattan in the 1750s,” Janine Yorio, head of Republic Real Estate, told Bloomberg. “There is massive growth ahead, and now is the time to get in on the ground floor.”
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The Shipping. Images courtesy of Reisinger Studio
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  • Designer Andrés Reisinger created The Shipping, a collection of virtual furniture—which sold in less than ten minutes for a total of over $450,000 in February. The 3D models can be used in virtual and augmented reality applications or can be added to development platforms like Unreal Engine—which is what Epic Games used to create Fortnite.
  • Gucci released a virtual shoe in March. The shoes were created in collaboration with AR fashion platform Wanna and can be worn in digital environments like Roblox and VRChat.
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  • Big Tech is ramping up their AR efforts. On March 18, 2021 Facebook revealed designs for its new AR glasses, which will be controlled by a neural wristband. Facebook described the new design as “an interface for AR that won’t force us to choose between interacting with our devices and the world around us.” A March 11 report revealed that almost a fifth of Facebook employees are now working on augmented and virtual reality devices, indicating a significant acceleration of AR and VR capabilities.

Why it’s interesting:

Continued growth in virtual and augmented realities and the advent of mixed realities, which integrate virtual elements into real-world environments and vice versa (see trend #15 in “The Future 100: 2021“), is creating extended versions of ourselves and our lives—heralding a new era of augmented lifestyles.

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