NFTs (non-fungible tokens) became big news this year when Beeple’s exclusively minted digital collage sold for nearly $70 million at Christie’s and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet as an NFT for almost $3 million. As sensational celebrity NFT sales dominated headlines, some speculated whether the entire NFT industry was built purely on hype and speculation.
In fact, NFTs serve more practical (and accessible) functions. Benjamin Ong is the co-founder and COO of Ether Cards, a platform providing tools that connect NFTs to the real world. He said that while NFTs are all the rage right now, few understand the technology’s true potential, which goes beyond the intrinsic value of the art or media displayed on the tokens.
“NFTs are capable of much more than simply being a register for a digital object’s ownership. We wanted to illustrate this in a manner that is easy to understand and even easier to interact with.”
Ether Cards is a community-driven NFT framework allowing creators to maximize the value of their NFT art or series by expanding the capabilities of NFT marketplaces. This means unlocking the practical value of NFTs by enabling a deeper connection between NFT owners and their creations.
One of the first functions of this framework is the ability for creators to transform their artwork into NFTs that function like membership cards, which let their supporters enjoy discounts, bonuses, exclusive material, VIP status and even access to a direct communication channel with their favorite artists.
“NFTs have so much more potential than simply changing hands on the secondary market,” Ong said. “We wanted to add extra traits and features to allow creators to unlock significantly more value in their creations, as well as give them the ability to build a direct connection with their collectors.”
Ether Cards is currently collaborating with Marvel Studios designers, artists commissioned by Netflix, Nike and MTV and celebrity-signed fashion designers including artists who have worked for Steve Aoki, Wiz Khalifa, Calvin Harris, Skrillex and A$AP Rocky. “We still have more NFT artists who are yet to step into the limelight,” Ong said.
In addition to providing developers access to verifiable randomness on-chain with Chainlink VRF, Ether Cards adopted Chainlink’s highly generalized decentralized oracle solution to unlock the potential of dynamic NFTs. Oracles connect dynamic NFTs to the external world in order to trigger real-world events, be triggered by external data and computational outputs, and enable the creation of tokenized commodities.
Randomness is key to maximizing the value of NFTs. However, accessing a secure source of on-chain randomness and providing adequate proof that NFTs are indeed truly random and tamper-proof can be difficult. “After evaluating several RNG (Random Number Generator) solutions, Chainlink’s VRF was identified as the most secure and easy-to-implement solution for our smart contracts,” Ong said.
Ether Cards has outlined numerous real-world applications for dynamic NFTs that provide utilities and/or access to limited resources. For example, NFTs can be used to designate VIP membership. Concert tickets sold as NFTs will retain a degree of value as memorabilia, while dynamic NFTs that are aesthetically similar to trading cards could include a predetermined amount of time to talk to a band member after the show. This way, dynamic NFTs could act as verified, trustless assets designating ownership over a limited resource, such as an artist’s time.
Because dynamic NFTs interact with the real world through oracles, they have the capacity to physically change as a direct result of real-world events. An NFT baseball card’s image could be “damaged” by a losing game and restored with a victory. A visual artist might create an NFT that changes to reflect their most recent self-portrait.
The goal of Ether Cards is to show the world that NFTs powered by Chainlink oracles have much more possibilities beyond speculative art. Ong said the project is working alongside a growing number of art galleries, sport collectors and even celebrities to bring more real-world applications to the NFT space: “This is simply scratching the surface of possibilities and Ether Cards is capable of doing much more.”
Read more about Chainlink’s latest integrations here.