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Meta Creates NFT Gates (plus more from Ford & Ikea)

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NFT gated communities, robot deliveries & smart(er) homes


1. Meta – NFT-gated online communities

Meta’s foray into NFTs isn’t news and this latest patent application is an update to one that was submitted a year ago.

If you want an update on where Meta is with their NFT product strategy, here’s a pretty good summary.

In essence, Meta allows some creators to:

connect their wallets with their instagram

display NFTs they own (as verified by their wallet) in stories, posts and DMs

in the future, click through on NFTs to bid on them within Instagram / Facebook

When looking through the patent application, we get a bit more flavour about what Meta’s roadmap with NFTs.

Most interestingly, Meta is looking into NFTs as a way of gating access to certain resources – this could be content, actions or portals.

So for example, imagine there was a Patent Drop facebook group for the readers of the newsletter to get to know each other, chat, share interesting links. One thing we might do is firstly gate access to the group for people who own a Patent Drop NFT. Now let’s imagine that the group becomes a home for incredible technology talent. We might setup another NFT collection that would enable companies to be able to post within a Jobs board. And lastly, imagine there’s a quarterly Patent Drop report that distills the patent analysis into a major trends report. In theory, this report could be gated for people who hold a Patent Drop NFT that has a ‘VIP’ trait.

Facebook communities could be an interesting accelerant for NFTs to be used by people outside of the tech twitter bubble. Sceptics might ask why NFTs are necessary for this. People could just pay a subscription for access to private communities – I mean, it happens already. I think the answer to this will be clearer over a decade. But I imagine there are firstly lots of incentives as to why Meta would want to use crypto rails for in-app transactions – no fees to existing payment rails and complete access to users’ crypto transactions that make for deeper user profiling. Community owners and members could both benefit from setting up groups with a scarce members. Conversations could be better and the ability to resell NFTs might incentivise members to create high value communities. Lastly, it’s easy for an ecosystem to build around NFT memberships. For instance, a new diaper start-up might emerge permissionlessly by offering discounts to people who own a NFT in a new parents facebook group.

While Meta is primarily talking about how NFTs will be integral to their metaverse economy, this patent filing shows that there is a more immediate use-case of NFTs being deployed in Facebook groups.

2. Ford – robot assisted package delivery

Ford is looking into how robot delivery of packages can be optimised.

This includes:

where should a vehicle be parked so as to minimise travel times for the robot

should the vehicle remain parked, or could it move elsewhere while one robot performs its delivery

the estimated time it will take for the robots to deliver a package, so that a vehicle can return to pick it up

The “final 50 feet” of delivery has a lot of variability that could be optimised for. For instance, the time it takes to deliver an object to the 35th floor of a tall skyscraper is completely different to the time it takes to deliver something to a 1-storey bungalow. Moreover, it can be difficult to see if there will be parking next to the delivery address, or if a driver will need to park further.

Ford want to build a system that optimises where delivery robots should be dropped off and picked up. Part of this will include integrating real-time parking data and working together with urban planners to minimise curbside congestion.

What’s most interesting about this filing is it reveals how car manufacturers are seeing future opportunities within their industry. In a world of shared autonomous vehicles and low consumer ownership, delivery may become even more important as a growth area.

3. Ikea – smart(er) homes

Quick one from Ikea – a company I’ve newly started to track.

Ikea is thinking about how the ‘away’ mode for a lot of smart devices can appear more realistic, as to avoid burglaries.

Currently, most smart devices will follow a strict timer – lights will turn on at 6pm until midnight to make it look like someone is at home.

Ikea want to introduce an element of randomness in the timing and other elements, to convince a potential burglar that there is someone really at home. For example, introducing a random offset on the timing for turning on the lights, and also randomly switching the colour of the lighting.

Moreover, Ikea might study the usage patterns of the user when they’re not away, and implement that in the ‘away’ mode settings.