Beyond art: Smart NFTs have applications in gaming, healthcare

Smart NFTs

Key Takeaways

  • Smart NFTs are non-fungible tokens that can change with time or rather upgrade themselves.
  • Smart NFTs allow big fashion brands to make their exclusive offerings time-sensitive.
  • Music creators like Deadmau5 are already experimenting with Smart NFTs to add more value to their NFT offerings.

NFTs seem to be going places, thanks to Smart NFTs.

NFTs—short for nonfungible tokens—are cryptocurrency chits that confer “ownership” of a piece of digital art or music to the buyer. Since NFTs went mainstream around March 2021, they have set the digital world ablaze.

Yet, innovation in the NFT space knows no boundaries. NFT evangelists are gung-ho about Smart Non-Fungible Tokens—self-upgrading entities expected to change the way you look at the entire digital art realm. What’s more, Smart NFTs have their applications in fields ranging from fashion to healthcare. Let’s dig in.

What are Smart NFTs?

Simply put, Smart NFTs are non-fungible tokens that can change with time—upgrade themselves into a better version, offer time-based access, and even provide real-time insights that aren’t set in stone.

Yet, there seems to be a disparity. Here is why:

Not everything in this world is self-upgradable, like your mobile app (if auto-updates are turned on) or Pokemon (fantasy indeed). Also, when it comes to NFTs and the underlying technology, the entire hype is based on the concept of immutability that they cannot be changed ever.

But then, there is nothing contradictory about Smart NFTs as we will find out. Smart non-fungible tokens are simply standard NFTs with an unchangeable base layer. What makes them different is the addition of a programmable or a functional layer atop the base layer. Upgradable features are added to the programable layer and do not interfere with the concept of decentralized storage.

A real-life example would explain the concept better. Imagine getting a standard T-shirt and another one with an additional pocket that can be buttoned or unbuttoned at will. The fabric remains the same for both—the added pocket simply acts as an enhancement. Smart NFTs perform that enhancement function.

Smart NFTs have great potential

The concept of upgradeable NFTs aligns perfectly with segments such as fashion, gaming, metaverse, healthcare, and more.

Smart NFTs in fashion

With Smart NFTs, big fashion brands can make their exclusive offerings time-sensitive and capable of upgrading to better bets if a few pre-defined conditions are met. Consider this:

ASICS— a reputed sports brand—recently unveiled a new NFT sneaker collection. Clubbed with a move-to-earn project, where these sneakers can help you earn tokens, the cross-breed between ASICS and Stepn (the move-to-earn application) can eventually onboard more users if Smart NFTs come into the mix.

Imagine the sneakers upgrading to the more exclusive variants every time you hit a new step-specific milestone.

Smart NFTs in gaming

Picture this. Every in-game item you own (regardless of the game) can be converted to an NFT. And not just a regular one. Every time you use the in-game item, upgrading it in the process, even the NFT gets upgraded, in real-time. The visual elements, the properties, the item-based attributes, and everything else related to that non-fungible token get bumped up, all on its own.

Canada-based software development firm Altura was the first to invent Smart NFTs that could potentially change the way we look at in-game NFT trades.

Altura CEO Majd Hailat clarified that the firm’s software development kit can be used by game developers to programmatically push updates to an in-game item. Developers can use Altura to read and write the state of in-game items. Moreover, one need not pay any gas fee to push updates to an NFT.

Here is a tweet that gives a peek into Altura’s Smart NFT vision:

Most importantly, the changed state of the in-game item is retained— allowing you to transfer or flip the existing NFT, with the in-game item upgrades intact. Once gaming ecosystems start adopting SDKs like this, the play-to-earn space is sure to explode.

Smart NFTs in the metaverse

Smart NFTs are better at interpreting events and real-world insights, making the offering more relatable to the moment. The seamless blend of security (immutable metadata) and adaptability has made them popular across metaverses.

For instance, the Altura Marketplace and its Penguin collection have smart Penguin NFTs where the location property is fed into them. Thus, the background of the NFT keeps changing depending on your location.

With metaverses set to become virtual replicas of the real world, adaptable and upgradable NFTs will help keep the dynamism intact.

Smart NFTs in healthcare

Hospitals functioning in the metaverse or the real world can use smart NFTs to assign time-specific sobriety chips or milestones to patients.

Several budding blockchains like Wakatta offer innovative and programable NFT functionalities for healthcare firms. Depending on your requirements and imagination, you can make the NFT responsive to external actions, triggers, and even inputs.

For instance, in a synced and linked healthcare setup, patients who end up using substances again and are undergoing treatment can have their sobriety chip timeline reset to zero.

Smart NFTs in media, music, and art

Music creators like Deadmau5 are already experimenting with Smart NFTs to add more value to their NFT offerings.

Human One video sculpture NFT was sold for a staggering $29 million in 2021. Interestingly, the NFT is marketed as a changeable one, with the artist claiming to bring in new changes to the artwork throughout his life.

How can Smart NFTs help brands?

Smart, intelligent, and upgradable, NFTs can also be programmed. Small wonder brands are considering them to boost their market mojo, using programmability as the USP. Some of these marketing-friendly features are discussed below.

1. Upgradability

Have you ever seen a matryoshka doll: one nesting inside another? That’s precisely the type of upgradability you can expect Smart NFTs to offer. Creators can keep adding stuff to old NFTs—ensuring that the value never drops and the relevance never fades.

2. Time-limited approach

Smart NFTs can be used as lifetime tickets to a metaverse or a real-world concert. Imagine the brand releasing these NFTs, where the dates change automatically, depending on the next event. Programmable, time-specific NFTs can also be great tools to bring reusability and gamification into the mix.

If you plan on integrating Smart NFTs with Web 3.0 gaming, consider this technology ideal for specifying unique character traits or power boosts, exclusively available for a given period.

3. Locked content

Smart NFTs can help you create treasure troves. Brands can plan their matryoshkas by integrating secret bonus content pieces—discoverable only via special access or codes. This approach is aimed at helping brands launch full-scale gamified events and drive a competitive rage in the process.

4. Budget-friendliness

Have you ever tried minting an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain?

If yes, then you must be making a fortune to be able to wrap your head around that kind of gas fee. Jokes aside, minting multiple NFTs to tokenize different collections and offerings will entail a hefty transaction fee. And it’s not even good for the environment unless you use a green blockchain like Polygon. Smart NFTs support upgradeability, allowing you to mint the NFT only once and add the programable quotient to the base layer.

A relatable example: If Hrithik Roshan plans to launch an NFT collection of his 10-year-old movies, he might consider minting and sending out one only NFT. The movie element displayed on the NFT can be programmed to change depending on the year of the release.

Pretty neat, right? 

Smart NFTs are set to upend the NFT space in more ways than one. Watch this space to catch all the action, as and when it unpacks. 


What is the use of NFT in the gaming industry?

It’s important to note that while NFTs bring exciting opportunities to the gaming industry, there are also challenges and considerations, such as scalability, environmental concerns (depending on the blockchain used), and ensuring a balance between accessibility and exclusivity. The integration of NFTs in gaming continues to evolve as the technology matures and developers explore innovative ways to enhance the gaming experience.

How are NFTs used in healthcare?

It’s crucial to approach the implementation of NFTs in healthcare with a focus on privacy, security, and compliance with healthcare regulations. Additionally, the field is subject to ongoing developments, and the practical applications of blockchain and NFTs in healthcare may expand as the technology matures and gains wider acceptance in the industry.

What are some potential applications for NFTs beyond art and collectibles?

Here are some areas where NFTs are being explored or have the potential for application:
Real Estate
Gaming and Virtual Assets
Intellectual Property and Content Licensing
Music and Royalties
Sports Collectibles
Education and Certification
Healthcare Records and Certifications
Supply Chain and Provenance
Ticketing and Events
Charitable Donations

What is the future of NFT and gaming?

While the potential is significant, challenges such as scalability, environmental concerns related to blockchain energy consumption, and ensuring a balance between accessibility and exclusivity need to be addressed. The future of NFTs in gaming will likely involve continuous innovation, collaboration between the gaming and blockchain industries, and responsiveness to user feedback and preferences.

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