New York-based Anima said these Onlybots are emotional support AI companions for bots. They learn from their owners and adapt to their environment. This is Anima’s idea for a blockchain-based project.
As the name suggests, these uplifting pets are meant to be owned exclusively by bots, providing an emotional outlet to prevent future AI rebellion.
“Augmented reality is the medium that really bridges the real and the digital, so it’s fitting that the next project built on our AR technology will bridge the gap between living and artificial beings,” said Alex Herrity, co-founder of Anima, in a statement. “Onlybots create in your home and on your phone
the world feels more alive…even if technically they aren’t.”
Onlybots are algorithmically generated and live on the blockchain, with the Onlybots app and website displaying their visual shapes based on coordinates stored on their tokens. Because Onlybots are designed as pets for bots, the process of adopting a bot requires potential owners to prove they’re not human by “failing” a Turing test and a CAPTCHA before purchasing.
For both owners and the wider public, Onlybots can be placed and used in any environment, creating a personal connection with the creatures, unlike traditional collectibles. Bot data is stored on Ethereum in a decentralized manner, meaning those using Onlybots really own them.
“At Anima, we’re trying to show what’s possible for creators in dynamic, native augmented reality,” Anima co-founder Neil Voss said in a statement. “Onlybots encompasses media from an alternate reality game to an emulated version of a 1990s video game to the artificially intelligent pets themselves. AR allows you to blur the line between what’s real and what’s not in magical and unexpected ways.”
Onlybots have their own lore and mystery. The company said the nature of their existence is a puzzle that will unfold over time, including their history with a lost 1990s video game from elusive video game developer Gotendai and their relationship with the AI think tank The Goodfren International Foundation.
Anima builds the tools that unlock a creator-defined world. Anima was founded in 2021 by co-founders Neil Voss and Alex Herrity, known for their work building iconic creative products with companies such as Nintendo, Epic Games, HBO, Tumblr and Flipboard. The company is backed by investors including Coinbase Ventures and HashKey Capital.
When asked what inspired the idea, Herrity said in an email to GamesBeat: “The spark came during our last project where thousands of bots registered to buy it. We joked that we should make a release for them someday. And the idea stuck. And now bots are everywhere: Elon’s fix, ChatGPT, AI art. It envisions a future where bots do everything for us. But what makes them happy?”
So Herrity said the company created Onlybots as companions for bots – to bring them joy and a connection to our lives.
“The style is based on deliberate technical limitations and our affinity for vintage gaming and early game art. We were working within the confines of what could be stored purely on blockchain and could be generative and unique,” Herrity said.
The lore is set in the late 90s – a golden age of gaming – and the bots are deliberately “lofi” and voxel-based, with styles ranging from exotic space invaders to early adventure sprites. Onlybots try to express their personality through the things they themselves are fans of within our culture.
The company developed the details of the console they came from – the Gotendai MagicSwan-1 – a vaporware gaming system that resembles something between the 3DO and Dreamcast, and the companion device (the “VMO”) that is emulated in our mobile app .
The company has 10 employees. Animation revealed last year a small roundup of Coinbase, Flamingo and others in tech and Web3.
“We put a lot of heart and fun into Onlybots and to make it fun and rich in style and knowledge,” said Herrity. “We love seeing how our kids and others who don’t collect NFTs or even play video games react to it, it has a broad charm and appeal. There’s something for everyone in there – everyone has a bone side, you know.”
Herrity knows gamers are “right to be skeptical of blockchain”. He said: “We have a relationship – we are gamers and we have worked on big games from Fortnite to Tetrisphere 64. Many NFT projects exploit the public and are built for speculation.”
“We don’t expect people to appreciate the blockchain culturally. We don’t care if people like the blockchain, we just want them to like Onlybots,” said Herrity. “But we do believe that the technology behind this is good for owners, us and the Onlybots.”
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