Bringing Communities Together Through Virtual Worlds: MAY.Social CSO Edward Yang Talks to Us About the Social Metaverse

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The metaverse has quickly become a hot topic since Facebook changed to Meta last year, heralding in the new future of online social platforms. With the diverse social media and communication tools at our disposable today, we can easily text, video-call, or share a game together with friends using the internet. There is a pleasure in being able to stayhomepage home and enjoy interactions and activities which span the globe. But as the pandemic showed us, it still doesn’t come close to being together in the same space with your community.

Be it a meeting in a workspace, drinks with friends at the bar, or even just walking the streets of your favourite city neighbourhood, sharing spaces and being able to interact fluidly is important to us. MAY.Social is a metaverse social platform which brings an exciting, interactive, and burgeoning social world straight to your phone. Using live motion capture technology to mirror your authentic facial expressions, this app has the potential to make the metaverse really come to life. We spoke to MAY.Social’s Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Edward Yang, about the platform.

Q: Tell me a bit about MAY.Social and what the platform is about? How does it work?

A: Our app belongs to the social metaverse. The Metaverse and Web 3.0 are going to enable the emergence of new types of communities who are not bonded by physical obstacles, national borders, and so on. It means different communities can gather in an immersive virtual space. They can talk, and they can interact.

The MAY in MAY.Social stands for Meet Another You. We want you to create and meet your virtual self and others in the metaverse by creating a virtual avatar on our platform. When you download our app, you become our user and you can create and personalise this avatar. You can decorate your avatar, making it look exactly like yourself or like some totally different person.

The cool thing about our app is your avatar carries your real-time facial expressions and hand gestures, as well as your voice. We use the front camera of your phone or desktop device to capture your real-time emotion and then mirror that in your avatar. So, your avatar carries your real-time social expressions like your emotions and voice.

The next step is going into the rooms or the open worlds in our app where you can explore a diverse array of experiences. The worlds are 3D spaces where you and other users can interact using your avatars. You can explore the 3D spaces or get involved with 3D NFT arts, play games in 3D worlds, or even have meetings in the 3D space.

Q: Cool. So, for example you could have a board meeting, and all sit there together using your avatars?  

Yes, exactly. The 3D space determines how immersive an environment is going to be. It can be a 3D space shape or a 3D version of a virtual city, or you can also build your own space and community. You can build it with 3D design software and then we can help make it available on our app.

Q: Tell me a bit about the history of MAY.Social. Who are the founders and what inspired them?

A: The founder and CEO is Vance Gong. He was previously building very powerful social apps and games in North America, but through his work he made a few observations about Gen Z users. He noticed Gen Z people love to be anonymous online, but they still want to express themselves freely. They like avatars because the avatar becomes the ideal version of themselves in the virtual space. So that’s how the idea came about.

We want to build avatars which can authentically represent you. Not only your appearance, but also your facial expressions and voice. With your avatar you can then mingle with people and socialise with people on the internet. [Nowadays] you can communicate easily online, but our app gives you a space to do something together [which can help] build social relationships. So that’s why we extended our platform into the 3D space.

Q: People use social media to connect with distant people and communities. How does a metaverse social platform differ from social media platforms? What are the benefits of interacting in this space?

A: There are three things which make us stand out. Firstly, compared to other social platforms, we allow you to express your real time social expressions through the avatar. You don’t have to open your camera and reveal your true self, but you can still express yourself authentically because the avatars are truly interactive. The real magic happens when your actions become your avatar’s actions. Your movements get mirrored into your virtual avatar in real-time.

Secondly, our app also differs from the other metaverse platforms. We’re more like an augmented reality platform than a virtual reality platform. You don’t have to use a VR headset, joystick, or gloves to control your avatar. It is effortless and hassle-free. You can really be in control of your avatar.

Thirdly, for the 3D spaces we’re really taking a collaborative approach. We will build our own of course, but we also want others to build on our platforms. For example, this includes wider metaverse and Web 3.0 communities, and NFT artists and projects. Our platform offers a building tool for them. We want them to build a 3D space on our platforms so they can use this free space to continuously engage with their community. They can have a 3D interactive version of Twitter-space talk in our platform. They can have real-time engagements in an immersive space instead of in Discord or Telegram where they can only exchange text or images. So, I think that differentiates us from other platforms.

Our platform can also help to bridge Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 because when people use other social media platforms, they can’t really own what they create on the platform. But on our platform, we build the 3D spaces as NFTs themselves so you can truly own the space you create. For example, if I am an artist and launching my NFT project, I can work with MAY to launch a 3D space that is itself an NFT. I own it, so I can carry this 3D space elsewhere to whoever can support the 3D format, and then do my exhibition in my own space. On MAY I can also invite my community and followers to join my space and have meetings with me, explore my exhibitions, or even play games with me. So, it’s a collaborative and decentralised Web 3.0 approach. And I think that really benefits communities.

Q: Who do you think will benefit most from an online social platform like MAY.Social?

A: We think creative communities can benefit the most. They are creating digital spaces and experiences, and with our platform they can make those kinds of spaces their own. And they have a place to interact with their community in a very rich way.

It can also benefit Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs). They can have a virtual gathering place to meet, to explore, and to discuss how to develop their concept. I think the main platform is really for decentralised communities. For them to socialise, mingle, and exchange virtual assets in terms of NFTs.

Q: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a growing start-up?

A:  One set of challenges involves the technology. We want people to be able to truly express themselves in the virtual spaces, and for this we need to build very solid avatars and a social system that can mirror you. Developing motion capture technology for a mobile phone is extremely difficult. It consumes a lot of battery power and computing resource as well. The question is how to optimise it to ensure it works well with all the 3D rendering that’s happening on your phone in our app. That’s a huge technological challenge and a very complex problem. 

Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

A: Building a start-up in the frontier of [the] Metaverse and Web 3.0 is full of challenges. We learn from mistakes, partners, investors and advisors on a daily basis. The biggest lesson is that we need to formulate a fitting and inspiring narrative for everything we are building. The team had been head-down building the complex tech and product, but story-telling and marketing are also very important for us to effectively differentiate ourselves from others, gain traction, and build partnerships.

Q: How far along is MAY.Social from launching? What are your short-term and long-term goals?

A: We have launched our beta version of the mobile app, desktop app and web. You can search “MAY- Meet Another You” on the app store or visit https://may.social/ to try it out. The product is still in the early phase of our grand vision, and we are fast iterating too. The short-term goal is to build rich Web 3.0 social and community features into the app based on our immersive motion-capture powered interactions, so that we can run joint Ask Me Anything (AMA) events with Web3 community partners to bring more users onboard. We are also building a virtual city on MAY for all communities and users to reside in. To explore, socialize, create and share their virtual life. This would be our ultimate long-term goal.

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Our social worlds have been changed irrevocably by the advent of social media, and now tech innovators are looking towards the metaverse to create the next big thing in online social interaction. Though there are many competing for the metaverse space, MAY.Social offers unique ways of making it as realistic and accessible as possible. Its motion capture technology can enable your avatars to express your emotions in real-time, allowing for authentic interaction without compromising anonymity. As a primarily AR experience, there is no need for expensive headsets and the metaverse world is open to you anywhere so long as you have your phone. The future of socialising is here.

 

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