Recently, a corporate account called SuperWorld began following me on Twitter, and according to their Twitter account:
SuperWorld is a social and real estate platform in AR/XR, where users and brands can explore, connect, and build community in a decentralized environment.
So, curious, I visited the SuperWorld website. The company describes their platform as follows:
SuperWorld is a social AR platform company which allows users to build community in Augmented Reality. Users and brands can personalize the real world by adding anything anywhere in augmented reality with photos, videos, texts, and 3D objects, and share the AR experience with friends and followers. We are currently launched on iPhone.
As I have stated before on this blog, I do not consider cellphone-based apps to be true “augmented reality”. I prefer to reserve the term for actual AR headsets such as the Microsoft Hololens or the Magic Leap One, which are still considered highly experimental technology.
Basically, the premise of SuperWorld is that you purchase regions (called polygons) that correspond to real-world locations, such as the Empire State Building in New York or the Eiffel Tower in Paris:
Holding a SuperWorld AR Real Estate Token allows buyers to have ownership of the longitude / latitude dimensions purchased and where future AR posts and advertising will be placed. It’s like the game of Monopoly in Augmented Reality. The goal is to collect the best places of real estate in the world or places that you love and to be able to buy and sell that real estate over time, as you like. The purpose of the AR Real Estate Token is to serve as an incentive to lock-in users to our ecosystem.
Now, this is not the first such product; I have written in the past about similar blockchain-based platforms which are superimposed upon the real world, such as Mossland and Worldopoly (which has relaunched as Worldopo). The big problem will all of these projects is that they are being set up well before any kind of wearable augmented reality headgear becomes popular among consumers. According to the SuperWorld white paper:
Social media usage is very popular worldwide but does not align user interests with company interests. Ads are how social media apps stay alive but users do not always see the benefits of ads. Concurrently, content creators and influencers face a fragmented market when trying to start off their endeavors. Few platforms allow content creators to monetize and share in the revenue other than YouTube. We want to create an economic paradigm in which passive content viewers, content creators and marketers’ interests are all aligned…
We believe that in the future AR glasses will be widespread and the lens through which people see the world will be through their favorite AR apps. Currently, smartphones are more commonplace and accessible so we will be focusing on the SuperWorld smartphone app until the future of AR glasses arrives.
So, let me get this straight. You’re expecting people to download the SuperWorld app to their mobile devices, and point them at real-world locations, in order to see more advertising? Why would anybody bother to do this? Aren’t we inundated with enough advertising as it is?
Here’s an eight-minute promotional video for SuperWorld:
The first half of this video is taken up with an explanation of how to set up your MetaMask wallet and purchase Ethereum to use in SuperWorld, so you might just want to jump straight to the second half, just to see how underwhelming this product is. Even worse, when I tried it myself last night, I couldn’t get the map to load, despite several attempts.
Here’s another video, a year-old three-minute promotional video showing you how the mobile app works:
But when I downloaded the app to my iPhone SE to test it out, it was so buggy that it was simply unusable. In my opinion, this product is simply not yet ready for prime time. There seem to be all kinds of bugs and glitches in the implementation.
I do think that attempting to build a global augmented-reality overlay when we don’t have any kind of affordable, consumer-grade AR headset technology is a bit of a folly. There’s absolutely no guarantee that SuperWorld’s way of slicing up the real world is going to be accepted or adhered to by any other company.
Anyways, I idly clicked on the LinkedIn profile of the one of the co-founders of SuperWorld, Max Woon, to find that he has started not one, but two virtual worlds: SuperWorld, and something called Stan World.
(You know me and virtual worlds! For me, hunting down and reporting on all these social VR platforms and virtual worlds is like Pokémon: “gotta catch ’em all!” I take a great deal of pleasure in tracking these sometime-elusive creatures down!!)
So, I loaded up the Stan World website to take a look, and yep, all the standard buzzwords are present and accounted for:
There’s plenty of self-affirming text throughout the website, about building and enhancing community using virtual reality:
But there’s very little technical details on the implementation of Stan World, other than this very vague diagram explaining how all this is supposed to work:
And check out the promotional video for Stan World, which was just posted a couple of weeks ago on YouTube:
Now, I have no idea from where the company cobbled together this veritable mishmash of avatars and scenes from various virtual worlds, but nowhere in this video do I see evidence of an actual deliverable product! (In fact, I would appreciate it of my readers could help me identify where all these avatars and scenes were taken from.)
This is another one of those blockchain-based projects which seems to be selling the sizzle instead of the steak, and pinning all its hopes on earning money up-front via an initial coin offering (ICO) like Decentraland did, as can be seen in the following eight-second video taken from the Stan World website:
(Sorry, I was listening to Stairway to Heaven when I captured this footage! This is not the soundtrack to the website 😉 …)
Now, your guess is as good as mine as to what the woman in the bottom right-hand corner is supposed to be doing, wearing what looks like a very basic, cellphone-based VR headset! (Maybe hand tracking has come earlier than expected?) This all looks like third-party stock images to me.
But what really set off my alarm bells was this part of the website:
You would think that clicking on the iOS App Store button would take you to the App Store, right? Wrong. In fact, it doesn’t matter which of the three buttons you click on; all three do exactly the same thing, downloading exactly the same APK file to your hard drive. A little deft Googling revealed that APK is the package file format used by the Android operating system for distribution and installation of mobile apps and middleware. But the fact that…
- It downloads the APK without warning you; and
- It makes the download look like actual links to the iOS App Store, the Oculus Store, and the Google Play store;
…makes me seriously, seriously pause.
So, once again, I issue my standard warning, as I do for every blockchain/cryptocurrency product and platform out there. Please do every. single. shred. of your homework before investing in any blockchain-based virtual world. Read the white paper carefully and read through everything on the website, including the Terms of Service. Carefully and thoroughly evaluate what is being offered here in return for the investment of your hard-earned money.
Remember: Caveat emptor!