Physical NFTs bridge the divide between the physical and digital worlds and make for a doubly exciting phygital experience for Web3 enthusiasts and NFT collectors.
The emergence of Web3 has introduced an influx of new terminologies that fit well within the context of this blockchain-based ecosystem. Aside from Metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), one such terminology is “phygital,” a portmanteau of the words “physical” and “digital,” which, in the Web3 space, describes a unique blend of digital and physical experiences. And one of the most exciting forms of these phygital experiences is physical NFTs.
However, aren’t NFTs supposed to be virtual or digital? Most people have boxed NFTs in a primarily digital framework, which makes perfect sense due to blockchain technology, the underlying technology powering NFTs. Still, the Web3 space presents vast technological possibilities, one of which is the ability to mint physical NFTs.
Understanding Physical NFTs
Succinctly, physical NFTs are digital tokens linked to real-world assets. They serve the same purpose as traditional NFTs—they verify ownership over artworks, property deeds, fashion goods, tickets, and other assets.
Physical NFTs typically have two components—digital, which is stored on the blockchain, and physical, which is tangible, something you can touch and own. And although authentication is the primary application of these IRL NFTs, they can be used to enhance consumer and in-person experiences to make these more exciting.
Physical NFTs gained traction in the mainstream after popular brands such as GAP, Nike, and Adidas released NFTs linked to corresponding physical items. Even famous artists like Beeple and Damien Hirst created IRL versions of their NFT artworks.
As mentioned previously, physical NFTs are composed of digital and physical components. The digital part is issued on the blockchain through a smart contract. The physical part is typically linked to a unique identifier—a QR code or near-field communication (NFC) tag.
For instance, Nike and RTFKT used NFC tags to link physical clothing (hoodies) to NFTs. By scanning the QR code found on the hoodie, its digital version would be able to track its wearer’s physical movements in augmented reality. On the other hand, the wearer of the physical hoodie can customize the digital garment with add-on features like virtual wings.
Upsides of Physical NFTs
There are several reasons why physical NFTs prove beneficial. For one, it prevents the prevalence of counterfeit products. These days, it’s easy to counterfeit physical goods. With physical NFTs, businesses can link the serial numbers of goods to NFTs or use QR codes or NFC tags to verify a physical product’s authenticity. Because a digital record of the product is preserved on the blockchain, it is almost impossible to tamper with or forge a product.
Physical NFTs likewise add a layer of transparency, particularly to second-hand collectible items. With NFTs attached to the products, buyers can seamlessly obtain an overview of the item’s transaction history. Finally, NFTs linked to physical goods can help brands reach a broader audience and improve in-person experiences.
Examples of Physical NFTs
We have already provided an example of a physical NFT earlier, the RTFKT x Nike AR Genesis Hoodie, that can “trigger” communication with its NFT counterpart. Another collaboration between Nike and RTFKT, the Nike RTFKT Cryptokicks IRL, will be available this coming holiday season.
Even luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. joined the physical NFT bandwagon by launching NFTiffs in August. The collection consisted of 250 digital passes, which only holders of CryptoPunks NFTs can purchase. The digital passes can be redeemed for physical pendants with at least 30 gemstones and diamonds that best match the original NFT art.
And this month alone, several collaborations between well-known NFT projects have given birth to several physical NFTs.
High-quality luggage brand RIMOWA collaborated with Nike’s RTFKT for the limited edition Original Cabin suitcases that will go on sale on October 27. Only 888 pieces of the suitcases will be produced in physical form, although there will be 2,222 WorkerBot NFTs available for users to choose from.
The premise of the collaboration is that RIMOWA and RTFKT will have a brand-new virtual universe with a space station workshop. The WorkerBots in the workshop will get a virus, and online community members will need to work together to find the hacked RIMOWA x RTFKT space station. The space station’s muse must be turned on so WorkerBots can continue creating the limited edition NFTs.
NFT holders who finish the task can use their NFT assets to create a genuine bag during a special online event. WorkerBot NFT will be sold for 0.08 ETH, or about $107, while the “Meta Artisan” Original Cabin piece will cost 2.3 ETH, or roughly $3,081.
There is also Azuki’s Golden Skateboard auction that raised $2.5 million, which is part of the anime-themed NFT’s physical backed token (PBT) initiative. Holders of the eight golden skateboard NFTs that were auctioned can burn the NFTs to redeem real-life, gold-plated skateboards.
According to Chiru Labs, the creator of the Azuki NFT project, the physical, gold-plated skateboards weigh 45 pounds each. They also emphasized that the skateboards are not recommended for riding.
Blue-chip NFT project Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) partnered with McBess and The Dudes for a new line of monochromatic merchandise. The merch line includes T-shirts, jackets, prints, stickers, and more. The items went live on October 26 and will be available through November 2.
There will be two versions of the drop—small and large. The Small version will be available for the equivalent of $175 in ApeCoin and includes a Skull and Fish Tee, a 50cm x 70cm art print individually numbered, stickers, and an enamel pin. This version is currently live.
The Large version of the BAYC merch drop is available for the equivalent of $500 in ApeCoin. It will include a denim jacket, a patch set, an enamel pin, the Boat Tee, and an individually numbered 110cm x 75cm art print. This collection will go live next week.
Finally, there’s the collaboration between Steve Aoki’s record label/apparel collection Dim Mak and the Deadfellaz NFT project. The “Deadfellaz x Dim Mak” custom capsule collection is collaboratively designed by Deadfellaz, Aoki, and the Dim Mak team.
Illustrations are by Deadfellaz’s chief illustrator Leon Lee, and items in the capsule will include skate decks, T-shirts, and hoodies. The capsules will be available in person during Deadfellaz’s Halloween event, DEADZONE LA, on October 29 in Los Angeles.
With the many brands and NFT projects collaborating for physical NFTs, we can only expect exciting times ahead for the Web3 and NFT spaces. What brands and NFT projects would you want to see collaborating in the future?
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