“Blockchain is the operating system of the Metaverse/Web3 and allows to build bridges between the real world and the virtual world”, explains Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Prinz, Deputy Institute Director at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT. Is there still a long way to go or what technologies do we already have?
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Blockchain – what is possible today
Blockchain is a decentralized computer system, it stores data in the peer-to-peer network and is not dependent or dependent on a central data center. Data is organized into blocks and these are linked together using hash values. Transaction data can be managed and stored in an irreversible and traceable way. “No one can manipulate data like this,” says Professor Dr. Wolfgang Prince. It all started with the Bitcoin blockchain, which is constantly being developed by the Bitcoin community, and it is known what is possible today and what is not.
Future blockchain topics are, for example, digital identities or the verifiability of supply chains and associated tamper-proof data on a product. Blockchain projects would be geared more towards enterprise applications – documents too expensive to notarize, certificates, audit logs or other evidence.
Bitcoin and NFT – hype or real investment
Bitcoins are a limited cryptocurrency and generally must be purchased with conventional currencies such as Euros and Dollars. The value of a bitcoin is an investment in an expectation. According to Wolfgang Prinz, most bitcoins have already been created – so there will come a time when new bitcoins will no longer be created. Like gold and oil, it is a finite commodity. It should also be noted that Bitcoin is a very volatile currency.
When it comes to Bitcoins, the enormous energy consumption during so-called mining, in which transactions are processed and new Bitcoins are generated, is repeatedly criticized. Teacher. Dr. Wolfgang Prinz points out: “The platform should be understood as a global data center. If you break down the other transactions that are still taking place in parallel, you get different values. The progress can be seen through other processes that reduce energy consumption.”
A new blockchain application are NFTs (non-fungible tokens) – such as pictures with monkeys or cryptopunks. Teacher. Dr. Wolfgang Prinz says, “NFTs are unique digital fingerprints of an image that are assigned to an owner. They cannot be hung on the wall, but are used to make unique digital art that can be copied at will. Other objects too, such as cars, machines or buildings could be mapped based on this technology in the future.”
Metaverse/Web3 – Beginning of a new era
“The Metaverse/Web3 discussion shouldn’t be considered crazy – it will come, but the timing is still open,” says Professor Dr. Wolfgang Prince. The Metaverse/Web3 is not the further development of blockchain, but combines technologies such as blockchain, NFTs, augmented reality, cryptocurrency and network technologies.
When asked where we are today, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Prinz: “We are currently in the discovery phase. This means that the exploration phase will take about two to three years. It is important that the hardware (VR/AR glasses) receives an innovation boost. In the industrial sector, the subject is being taken up again and the first economic models must be developed.” The Metaverse/Web3 topic should definitely be followed up, a new digital era is approaching us. Thousands of companies and developers are therefore dealing with the subject – “and they will find solutions”.