When naming and imagining the future, science fiction is fond of shapes. There are the rings from the iconic first-person shooter Halo, the labyrinth from the 1990s cult film The Cube, and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. And where science fiction dreams, the pioneers of the metaverses of today will follow.
Enter the Ørb, a digital vehicle created by futurist technology company  (pronounced zero), which enables “interoperability” in technical terms. What is the car’s function? to develop into a social network for immersive high-fidelity entertainment. On November 12, the first 2,500 rbs, issued as NFTs, were made available via ’s website in what the founders refer to as a beta release.
The Ørb definitely takes some ideas from science fiction. It combines the way Doctor Who’s Tardis can travel through time and space with Star Trek’s holodeck. “We’re elevating from cyberpunk,” said Krista Kim, founder of . Alex Dang, who designs luxury cars, made the outside look like the world’s sleekest shoehorn or kazoo. Inside, it’s a bright, open space that might be a nod to Kim’s work, who is a star of the digital art scene.
In 2020, Kim made Mars House, an immersive space with soft light and ethereal furniture that floated above a fiery background. It was sold on SuperRare for 288 ETH last year. It was often called the first NFT house and could be seen in virtual reality. rb takes the idea of Mars House, which is a high-design space you can own and move around in, adds functionality to it, and links it to the metaverse.
“Ørb is the first system where people can see and share 360-degree content and have a social experience,” Kim told Artnet News. “This is the next generation of artistic expression. We believe in presenting education, health and wellness, and art experiences in immersive 3D spaces.”
Interoperability is important, not only as a way to fight against Web2’s “silos,” but also because each metaverse has its own advantages and disadvantages. “There’s no metaverse that does it all. HyperFi has great lighting effects and flying movement, Spatial is good if you want productivity tools, Mona is for world building,” said Benny Or, creative director of , referring to a number of existing virtual worlds.
But there are already hundreds of metaverses, and many of them just started this year. This makes it hard to add Ørb. “It’s a lot of work,” Or said. “We partnered with the Museum of Crypto Art to try and make Ørb unified and beautiful in as many metaverses as possible.”
Then there’s the matter of what’s in it. Aside from Kim’s immersive environment, which was airdropped to the first Ørb owners, and 360-degree videos that users can upload, there aren’t many of the kinds of immersive experiences that ’s team is so excited about right now. CEO Peter Martin says there are two parts to the plan. The first is to find old 360-degree content in the archives. The second is to hire top digital artists to make new pieces.
“Since 2015, there’s been so much great content created. It’s sitting in people’s hard drives and millions was spent on them,” Martin told Artnet News, Noting the virtual reality pieces from places like the New York Times, Venice Film Festival, Life Magazine, and Sundance’s short-lived New Frontier program that are now mostly unavailable to the public. “We want to start by giving this IP a new lease of life.”
Martin says that the Pace Gallery’s Superblue, which has large, immersive works by contemporary artists from all over the world, is a major source of ideas for new content. “At the moment, all the art you can experience [in metaverses] is 2D art in a specialized environment. We want to do what Superblue did in physical space and bring our favorite artists through our system.”
Martin, a creative with 20 years of experience in the industry, and Christy MacLear, another founder and former COO of Superblue, give  the power and connections to bring unique, high-quality arts content to [rb]. But it might be harder to improve the technical parts of the vehicle and get more people to use it quickly.
Even though it has started testing in virtual reality, Ørb is still web-based and can be navigated using the arrow keys and WASD controls that old-school gamers are used to. In fact, many of rb’s promises are still just plans for things to happen after the first quarter of 2023. The  website says that “the near future” will have holographic concerts and forums, skins that can be changed, and multiplayer features, just to name a few.
“We need to road test the system to build momentum,” Martin said, explaining the reasoning behind the beta release. “We want feedback and everyone wants to see it develop in the wild. The full-fledged project won’t be realized until next year.”
On the user side, Ørb wants to attract as many people as possible by becoming a platform for immersive content like PlayStation or Xbox. And at 0.33 ETH, the price of rb is in line with the idea that it shouldn’t be too hard to get. With the rise of augmented reality wearables,  is sure that there will be more people in the audience.
“We’re future proof,” Kim said. “Five years from now, the world will be changed after A.R. glasses are introduced into the market with mass adoption. We know these technologies are under development and their use will only accelerate.”
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