Fang Low1

The loneliness epidemic—and the rise of Metaverse

How can a Metaverse club address social withdrawal struggles of the modern human brain—especially the ones that arise, thanks to our urban setup? And how can pastel colors, music concerts, NFT museums, and designers like Ladislav Sutnar help here?

“I may not be real, but for a second there I felt pretty alive.” When you take a quick tour across Figment – a Metaverse-like Country Club, you are suddenly reminded of these lines. What the protagonist ‘Guy’ says in the movie ‘Free Guy’—seems to be the script that inspires the creators of this new land. There could be more to the intersection between the digital and the real world. And as ‘Guy’ aims for—‘What if our world does not have to be scary?’ A Metaverse does not have to be all alien, ethereal, drab, and antithetical to this universe. It can be fun, augmentative, immersive, and unpredictable in a good way. Has Figment cobbled together those bricks as it builds a new idea of a Country Club? We find out in this walk-about with Fang Low, Founder & President at Figment as he answers doubts about virtual bullying, privacy concerns, and escapism.

Tell us something about the genesis of Figment?

In this increasingly globalised world, we constantly ask ourselves the question of where we should live. Is it possible to make ourselves at home over a short stay? Is it even worthwhile to do so, knowing that we might be called away sooner rather than later? Well, science tells us we need to figure this out and fast. Social withdrawal is now officially recognised by urban authorities as a major risk factor for a wide range of illnesses. We now know that our buildings and cities directly impact our brains, moods, and well-being and that cells in the hippocampal region of our brains are constantly attuned to the spaces we inhabit.

We now know that our buildings and cities directly impact our brains, moods, and well-being and that cells in the hippocampal region of our brains are constantly attuned to the spaces we inhabit.

Can you explain how Bauhaus functionalism and multi-culturalism were used in designing this space? And why?

We wanted Figment’s inaugural Country Club to encapsulate multiculturalism, richness embedded in history, and a vision of the future that redefines a new era of design. Citizens of Figment Country Club have their own customizable avatars, which travel into a modern aerial blueprint of the reception, welcomed by warm wood grains and vibrant textiles, furnished with armchairs and sofas set apart for private meetings. Divided by the pastel-colored floors influenced by legendary Czech designers such as Ladislav Sutnar, and pale tinted glasses referencing contemporary creators like Dechem, each space offers a unique environment created by Figment’s global homes captured in photographs that are hung on the walls, allowing global members to experience the Figment home no matter where they are in the world.

Fang Low interview pix21
Manisha Sharma | DATAQUEST Fang Low interview pix21
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Manisha Sharma | DATAQUEST Fang Low interview pix31

What feature or immersive area are you most excited about in Figment?

There are so many exciting features to explore but hosting live music events on our outdoor stage will be an amazing experience to unite Figment Citizens from around the world and test the boundaries of live entertainment in the Metaverse.

Would you ever take it beyond the realm of Country Club?

For Figment, digital networks can act as a support for physical communities, making life in the “real world” even better. This is why we have designed a Club that gives Citizens access to IRL spaces as well as our Metaverse Club. Our first IRL Embassy House, Singapore House opens later this year with more to be announced in due course. We also have FGMNT, our Figment Museum of Non-Fungible Tokens launching later this year which will display our curated collection of NFTs.

Philip Rosedale of Second Life recently said in an interview: “… we are not technologically ready yet for the 3D metaverse for virtual reality headsets… If you imagine putting people as avatars into a virtual world with that kind of surveillance and behavior modification going on, it would be extremely dangerous for everyone.” How serious are these concerns?

We of course understand the security concerns around these developments, but being a part of the Figment Country Club does not require 3D headsets. We are focused on making positive changes in the space and building a community that encourages connection over isolation.

Fang Low interview pix41
Manisha Sharma | DATAQUEST Fang Low interview pix41

Any challenges so far—something you are still working on? Also are AI, XR, AR, VR, Cloud, and Blockchain technologies adequate, and sophisticated enough, to fuel big-scale and really-immersive Metaverse models?

Yes, we believe blockchain technology such as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) can fuel immersive Metaverse models and can serve as the democratic building blocks for new blockchain-based cities.

Would Metaverse platforms be extra susceptible to bullying, abuse, harassment, and illicit activities? Or is that a teething problem that can be ironed out with technology? Also, would Metaverse deal with such situations with existing legal frameworks or would the Internet 3.0 need a different model of Law & Order?

As with other platforms we are very aware of these threats and will ensure activity, legal frameworks, and security policies are constantly reviewed to ensure we keep our Country Club a safe and inclusive space for everyone.

For Figment, digital networks can act as a support for physical communities, making life in the “real world” even better. Which is why we have designed a Club that gives Citizens access to IRL spaces as well as our Metaverse Club.

How can enterprises make use of Figment—any plans or products in your portfolio or radar? What can CIOs or CXOs get here–like for better workforce recruitment, training, engagement, digital marketing, brand positioning, or customer outreach?

Figment Citizenship will be based on the merit of individual applications. We are building a product that will allow our Citizens to learn from and engage with each other, offering valuable insights into the Web3 space and the opportunity to connect with a like-minded community of innovators and thought leaders. We will be offering a cultural events program—covering everything from Web3 to Smart Cities which Figment Citizens will have the opportunity to vote on what they would like to see more of.

Fang Low

Founder & President at Figment

By Pratima H

pratimah@cybermedia.co.in

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