• This holographic technology will enable us to “teleport” in the metaverse…

  • A highly anticipated IPO for 2022…

  • This AI will help prevent traffic accidents…

Dear Reader,

When it collapsed, it felt like it might just be the end of bitcoin…

In early 2014, Japan-based digital asset exchange Mt. Gox was handling more than 70% of global bitcoin transactions.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, it suspended trading, closed its exchange, and filed for bankruptcy.

The exchange had been hacked.

And about 744,000 bitcoins had disappeared. At the time, it was an obscene amount of money considering the size of the cryptocurrency markets, which were worth about $600 million when bitcoin was trading around $800. The hack precipitated a collapse in the price of bitcoin, halving it to around $400 overnight.

What transpired since the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange has been incredible to watch. More than a year ago we looked at the complexity surrounding the Mt. Gox bankruptcy proceedings. Many lost fortunes back in 2014, and those creditors spent years in legal proceedings in Tokyo trying to recover whatever was left at the exchange.

But here’s the thing – they weren’t after a payout in Japanese yen or U.S. dollars. They wanted whatever bitcoin were left at Mt. Gox.

As the years in the courts passed, bitcoin’s value has gone hyperbolic, rising from the pre-bankruptcy price of around $800 to today’s $66,585 price. That’s an 83X return over the course of the last seven years.

So it’s no surprise that creditors wanted whatever portion of the remaining bitcoin that they could get. Ironically, the longer the court case drug out, the better the potential for the return of their capital.

And finally, it looks like that day will come. The final settlement has been filed with the Tokyo District Court that will result in about $9 billion worth of bitcoin to be returned to creditors.

It won’t make them whole, but it will return nearly 90% of what they were owed. Not bad considering that Mt. Gox lost almost everything in the hack. Those original 744K bitcoins that were not recovered are now worth around $60 billion. Unbelievable.

This isn’t a compliment, but that is probably the greatest heist of all time. One has to wonder if the thieves are still holding the bitcoin or if they found a way to “wash” their bitcoin and off-ramp it into the real world. If they did, they’re most certainly in a deep state of regret.

I have long believed that there is a universal sense of justice that always emerges in due time.

Bringing the real world into a metaverse…

Life in a metaverse won’t just be about computer graphics and avatars. In fact, technology is being developed to bridge the gap between our analog world and these digital worlds that we’ll soon be interacting in.

As a reminder, the metaverse refers to a virtual world in which people can meet and interact with one another. But there won’t be just one. There will be many different metaverses out there.

Right now the general focus is on metaverse-based games. But ultimately, there will be metaverses where we can work, have meetings, participate in live events, and even watch concerts and sporting competitions.

And that brings us to how we will be represented in these metaverses…

To date, interacting in a metaverse has largely been through the use of an avatar. This is a computer graphics generated character embedded with capabilities and characteristics that can be unique for each participant.

However, as the space matures, metaverses will have the ability to support holographic images from the real world. Our avatar can be a holographic representation of ourselves just as we look in real life.

And there’s one company set to make this a reality…

It’s called 8i. This is a company I have been tracking for years now. And 8i has developed technology that can capture real life in 3D and convert that video into holographic images in real-time.

It starts with a studio outfitted with high-definition cameras loaded with computer vision tech. Here’s a visual:

8i Studio

Source: 8i

As we can see, the cameras are positioned to capture video and movements from all angles. This is needed to produce a high-resolution 3D holographic image.

From there, 8i applies a form of artificial intelligence (AI) called machine learning (ML) to these videos. That enables the video capture to be converted into a holographic image in a matter of milliseconds. It’s almost instantaneous.

There are some major implications here…

The first is that this can be used to create a holographic virtual avatar that looks and moves just like we do. That way, when we are spending time in a metaverse, people see us exactly as we are. We would have control over our own avatar in a metaverse much in the same way that we do with a video game.

What’s more, gamers could start to use their own holographic image as an avatar in popular games like Fortnite. Rather than playing with a fictional character, we’ll be able to play just as we are.

Another application is that this technology could be used to broadcast live talks and performances in holographic form. Because 8i’s technology can convert the video in real-time, we can basically stream ourselves into a metaverse for meetings, presentations, or even concerts.

For example, think about famous musicians and public speakers. Right now, they have to travel for their concerts and events to perform in person. This allows them to get in front of hundreds or thousands of people at a time.

With 8i’s technology, these artists could broadcast their performances from their own studio to millions of people around the world. The broadcast could be sent to a live stage in physical venues with an audience present. This would allow the same event to take place in many different locations at the same time.

In just the same way, the broadcast could be sent to a room in multiple metaverses where people could attend with their own digital avatars. This transcends physical location entirely.

All of a sudden, popular “live” performances could reach hundreds of millions, even billions of people simultaneously. This is an incredibly powerful concept. And this tech isn’t limited to these commercial applications. Consumers can take advantage of it as well.

We will soon have the ability to “beam” ourselves into both physical and virtual locations at any time. We could use it to “teleport” into our quarterly meeting at our corporate headquarters – all from the comfort of our home. Or we could use it to attend a happy hour with our old friends from college – even if we don’t live in the same city.

And we could use this same technology to beam into our family reunion even when we’re not able to physically travel in person. And yes, this will be far better than a Zoom call!

The bottom line is that holographic image technology is going to become a major trend as the metaverse space continues to grow and mature. And 8i is at the forefront of making it a reality.

Let’s add this company to our early stage watchlist.

Instacart is taking a page out of Amazon’s playbook…

Instacart just acquired a company called Caper AI for $350 million in cash and shares. This is a move that needs to be on our radar…

I have been following Caper AI for years now. It has been developing technology that’s an alternative to Amazon’s Go stores. We have talked about these stores several times before.

For the sake of new readers, Amazon Go stores are loaded with AI-powered cameras installed on the ceiling. Consumers scan an app on their smartphone when entering the store. This links them to their personal Amazon account.

From there, consumers can take whatever they want off the shelves and walk out of the store. The cameras keep track of the items they take, and then Amazon automatically charges the person’s account.

It’s a fantastic technology that delivers an incredibly convenient experience for consumers. The only downside is that it is expensive to retrofit stores with all the advanced camera technology necessary.

As an alternative, Caper AI created AI-powered shopping carts. Here’s a look:

AI Shopping Cart

Source: Tech Crunch

As we can see, these carts have a screen on the front. The AI keeps track of the items that shoppers place into the cart, and the screen displays the cart’s inventory and total cost. This keeps a running tab of the grocery bill.

Once they’re done shopping, consumers simply walk out with the cart and load the groceries into their car. They are charged automatically for their purchases.

So Caper AI’s shopping carts provide the same experience as Amazon Go with less of an upfront expense. That’s what makes this technology so interesting.

And that begs the question – how does Instacart fit into the picture?

After all, Instacart is just a marketplace. The app lets people order groceries from participating stores with their phones. Instacart then pays gig workers to shop for those products and deliver them to the customer’s home.

That makes Instacart purely a middleman. What does it want with Caper AI’s shopping cart?

Well, it’s a page right out of Amazon’s playbook. We talked about this when Amazon announced its smart refrigerator a few weeks ago. If Instacart can get Caper AI’s carts in the grocery stores that it partners with, it will accomplish two things.

First, Instacart can require shoppers who are using the AI-powered carts to create an Instacart account for billing purposes. This would make all purchases flow through Instacart. That could generate a new revenue source in the form of small transaction fees.

What’s more, this would give Instacart incredible insight into what products each consumer tends to buy, and how often they buy them.

Armed with that data, Instacart could advertise customized special offers to each consumer. And it could even begin to anticipate when consumers will need specific items – just like Amazon’s smart refrigerator.

This could open the door to automatic purchases. Instacart could offer to automatically buy and deliver specific goods on a routine basis according to consumers’ own shopping habits. That could make Instacart something of a utility for many consumers. It would be responsible for keeping its pantries stocked each week.

This is a clever acquisition that has some interesting potential. And I don’t think that the timing of the deal is a coincidence. Instacart is one of the most anticipated IPOs in the tech world. Its last funding round valued the company at an impressive $45 billion.

Given the incredible growth that the company has experienced during the pandemic, I suspect it’s worth even more now. The acquisition is almost certainly linked to Instacart’s preparations for an IPO, which I am certain will happen within the next 12 months.

Predicting car wrecks in advance…

We’ll wrap up today with an interesting application of AI. A team at MIT’s AI Laboratory has found a way to predict future car crashes before they happen…

To do this, the team trained an AI on historical crash data, road maps, high-resolution satellite data, and GPS traces from cars on the road in four U.S. cities: Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Boston.

This created robust data sets covering 7,500 square kilometers in those cities. By pouring over this data, the AI was able to learn the exact conditions that lead to accidents in specific parts of each city.

Here’s a visual of the models created from those data sets:

Traffic Conditions in American Cities

Source: MIT

Armed with the knowledge of previous accidents, the AI can now monitor real-time GPS traces to alert us when the risk of a wreck becomes high in a given location in these four cities. That would allow authorities to re-route traffic patterns ahead of time, hopefully averting any accidents.

And get this – the AI can take what it’s learned and use it to “scale” its predictive abilities on a global level. In other words, it wouldn’t need to analyze new cities one by one. It can simply take its existing knowledge and apply it to new cities based on their road maps and traffic patterns.

This ability to scale so quickly, given the availability of data sets and high-resolution satellite images, is what makes AI so powerful. We can take on challenges at a global scale now with our combined computing power and employment of artificial intelligence.

To me, this is a really cool development. It’s a great application for AI – and potentially a great service to drivers all over the world. We are in for some incredible breakthroughs in 2022.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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