ThreeDee World is a new Belgian virtual world, but different from what we are used to. It is a photo-realistic environment without avatars that attracts many companies, from food retailers to bookstores and law firms. Tax expert Michel Maus will soon also get his place there.
ThreeDee World comes from the world of digital events. In early 2020, before the pandemic measures came into force, entrepreneur Diego Dupont started virtual job fairs in Belgium. “In March of that year, when the pandemic hit, exhibitors also asked us to host virtual fairs. It was a way to keep meeting customers and showing products,” Dupont says.
- ThreeDee World is a virtual world that appeals to business customers with its photorealism.
- The virtual buildings were designed by architects. Integrated video can be used and products can be viewed and purchased.
- Influencers offer, among other things, non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Leased land is sold as NFT to private and investment companies.
Dupont’s company, Fairtual Technologies, built a platform and hosted its first event in August 2020. Fairtual has 15 employees. ‘We did a little over 80 events, good for 1 million unique visitors and a lot of interaction.’
Visually, it looks completely different from the blocked worlds of Roblox, The Sandbox or Decentraland. Dupont uses photorealistic environments of shops, office buildings and apartments. It is striking that avatars are not used. People appear in a circle with a profile picture. Click on it and a video window will open.
It is important that the visitor can simply visit the world in his browser and that plain WiFi is sufficient.
It is important for Dupont that the visitor can visit the world in his browser and that plain WiFi is sufficient. Alternatively, the environment can also be experienced with a virtual reality headset. The world is not built by game builders, but by architects who design functional virtual buildings.
Dupont shows images of a virtual version of the Clean Sky trade fair on aviation and technology, an initiative of the European Commission. Users navigate with the arrow keys or go from panorama to panorama, as in Google Street View.
The virtual constructions were assembled earlier this year in a virtual environment for the Benelux, ThreeDee World. It is now being expanded. The main square can already be visited, the buildings will not open until September. There is a neighborhood of apartments and penthouses for artists and influencers who want to offer non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are certificates of ownership located on a blockchain, a network of computers where the data is stored.
Around the center there are sixty hexagons for companies and institutions. The hexagons focus on themes such as technique or food and drink. Urbanization, including green spaces, is inspired by the World’s Fair in Dubai.
“You can effectively do things in the buildings,” Dupont says. Letterland is a bookstore where you walk around using the arrow keys. You see books displayed as in a physical store. You can click on it to get information and read some pages. “There are also events with the authors in the store.” It is important that the books can be purchased in ThreeDee.
The German food retailer Lekkerland has three buildings where new campaigns can be seen and ordered. ‘We have processed more than 4.5 million orders for Lekkerland in 500 days. This is a big increase compared to the traditional webshop. ‘ Currently, the Lekkerland and Letterland buildings are used for events, later they can be visited permanently in ThreeDee World.
Even after the abolition or relaxation of corona measures, interest and use will continue to rise, says the CEO. Customers who choose standard constructions pay a few thousand euros for this. A fully tailored environment is also possible, but it will cost a few tens of thousands of euros. ‘But such a solution can be recycled.’
Virtual fashion shows
The apartments and penthouses are also functional. Dupont’s daughter is a model and holds fashion shows in her apartment, where the clothes can also be sold. The penthouse apartments have a meeting room with video facilities and a home theater to watch Netflix together. ‘It’s a great success. We now have a network of about 600 European influencers, ”says Dupont.
We now have a network of 600 European influencers.
ThreeDee also built a virtual stadium for a top Belgian club with an e-shop, additional advertising opportunities, a Mercedes event and the sale of NFTs. ‘With these NFTs, we think of digital panini stickers that you can assemble. It is a small amount, but in France it is already running and we see that the average income of a rugby club with the stickers is 178,000 euros. ‘
There is another use of the NFTs. Once virtual land is leased, it is put up for sale with an NFT. For 50 euros, a private person can buy a plot of land and receive part of the rental income. Investment companies buy a plot for an average of 30,000 to 35,000 euros.
The 600 plots in the central pavilion were put up for sale in February and were quickly sold out. ‘They are on a small blockchain, developed especially for us. It is not a blockchain that everyone can join, because we want a 100 percent overview of what is happening for security. ‘ At its own NFT marketplace, prices are in euros and invoices are issued.
Not only will lawyers and their clients appear in the meta-verse, it is also intended that students can take classes there.
The offered ‘land’ is limited. For the Benelux countries, it is about 5,000 plots, the rental has just started. Other countries will have their own environment to take into account the different jurisdictions. France will follow the Benelux.
Dupont seeks new capital for ThreeDee World. ‘It’s not a must, but we want to be able to change quickly,’ says the CEO. The virtual activities were already profitable in 2020, the first year.
“In ThreeDee, there will be a Law Land for law firms,” Dupont says. VUB professor and lawyer Michel Maus confirms that the Bloom Law office, of which he is a co-founder, will have a virtual presence on the platform from September. ‘We want to make it clear to our customers that we are also active in the meta-verse,’ says Maus. Metaverse generally refers to an interconnected set of digital environments. Not only will lawyers and their clients show up there, it is also meant that students can take classes there.
3 questions to Michel Maus
We asked tax expert and legal scholar Michel Maus about his views on the meta-verse.
About 15 years ago, companies absolutely wanted an establishment in Second Life’s virtual world. What is different now?
“Second Life may have been too early and too visionary. Now I have the feeling that we are witnessing the beginning of a new internet. Many more players and large companies are involved.”
What legal issues do you see arising in the metaverse?
Think of an Irish man who tried to sell a Bored Ape NFT on the OpenSea market but was hacked. Which court has jurisdiction? Maybe the hacker is from another jurisdiction. “
»There will also be discussions about working in the metaverse. Can an employee take his avatar with him when he leaves the company? Can the employer require someone to use a white-skinned avatar if they have a different skin color? ‘
Are there social problems?
‘What about avatars of deceased persons? Suppose CD&V lets the avatar of Jean-Luc Dehaene get involved in a debate. Technically it is possible, but what do we think about it as a society? ‘