Interactive social network with video streaming and Virtual Companion
The client wanted to create a social networking app that mimicked a real nightclub online. The app aimed to connect people, host virtual parties with music, and share interactive videos. It was intended to be available on multiple devices. As the project advanced, a new feature called the Virtual Companion was added. It provided different roles like teacher, friend, advisor, and party companion.
The latest figures state that at least 9 in 10 Internet users now use social media each month. It means that 58.4% of the world’s population uses social media. The average daily usage is from 2 hours and 27 minutes (as per January 2022 research).
In spring 2020, when Covid-19 pandemic started, people had to adjust to a new reality, staying at home, and talking online. This influenced the communication industry greatly. That’s when the idea to develop a social media app like Clubhouse appeared.
Our client is a US-based media startup aiming to support people’s communication during pandemics. The main product idea was to offer a new social networking app, an online nightclub with parties, good music, and interactive videos.
This solution will cover all platforms and popular devices, for both mobile and desktop users.
- Duration: April 2020 - ongoing
- Location: The USA
- Industry: Media
- Product Discovery, Custom software development, Web development, Desktop development, Native mobile app development
– To check the idea (concept) of a new social platform during the pandemic time
– To develop the social media network solution from scratch for the USA target audience
– To avoid out-of-the-box solutions like Twillio and find custom software development services for desktop and mobile solutions
– To show stable prototypes for investors’ approval
– To add a new feature. As the project progressed and new possibilities emerged with the GPT model, our client wants to add a new feature: the Virtual Companion.
- Check my neighborhood. Even though the social app promotes online communication, a user can check other users located nearby and invite them to join a club of interest.
- Create a Club. All groups in this social platform are divided based on people’s preferences in music, entertainment, and other themes. Unlike Rooms in Clubhouse, Clubs here support live video-streaming instead of voice. Regular chatting is also possible. Every online Club has a Guestlist, a list of the most popular clubs to join, and Moderation. Besides, every Club can have up to 50 guests and 5 moderators.
- Real-time discussion with video. A User can watch an on-stage performance, for instance, of how a bartender is making a cocktail, repeat after him, discuss it with other Club guests, and compare the progress.
- Clubs Moderation. Leaving a social app to function on its own will undoubtedly lead to offensive content, harassment, and other negative aspects of human communication. Moderation may not seem like a must-have feature, but it will pay off in the long run.
- Live Video-streaming. (Instagram-like feature) Each Club in the app has a Stage with live-streaming from one user in the current version, and multiple users in the upcoming product versions. Other users can share their reactions and discuss the live stream.
- Instant chats/ In-app messaging. In this all-in-one social media app are available for users within one Club and one table. Private tables come with up to 10 guests each.
- In-app purchase. Like every real night, this one also comes with its own Bar, so every user can purchase and share digital drinks and food (stickers) with other guests.
- Invites for new users. We have chosen the invite-based system for our social app to improve the quality of content and create an image of a closed club. All users can join closed Clubs of interest via invitation only (like in the ClubHouse app).
- Virtual Companion. Users can interact with a Virtual Companion playing various roles like a teacher, friend, advisor, and party companion, enhancing the user experience.
– Our team started with a profound discovery phase with a lot of market and competition research.
– To check the value from every selected feature, we began to apply the Use Case Scenario and User Stories + AC approach.
– We decided to avoid out-of-the-box solutions like Twillio to quickly adapt to changing requirements and advised custom software development services for all platforms of the client’s interest.
– To validate the client’s idea, we created working prototypes within the MVP stage.
– Currently, we are working on a Virtual Companions feature enabling users to interact with AI-powered conversational agents that simulate human-like conversations. The GPT model can be leveraged to develop Virtual Companions by training the model on vast amounts of conversational data. The model learns to generate responses that closely resemble human conversations, allowing users to engage in natural and engaging interactions with the Virtual Companion.
Different Roles of Virtual Companions in Social Networks
– Emotional support: Virtual Companion acts as an empathetic listener, providing emotional support to individuals. Users can share their thoughts, concerns, or experiences, and the Virtual Companion responds with understanding and empathy, offering comfort and companionship.
– Personal assistant: Virtual Companions can assume the role of personal assistants, helping users with tasks such as scheduling appointments, setting reminders, managing to-do lists, and providing information on various topics. They serve as reliable and accessible helpers, streamlining daily activities in socials.
– Language practice partner: Virtual Companions can assist users in language learning by engaging in conversations, providing vocabulary and grammar suggestions, and offering pronunciation guidance. They create a simulated language practice environment, enabling users to improve their language skills.
– Entertainment: The Companion entertains users by engaging in interactive storytelling, jokes, trivia, or even participating in multiplayer games. They serve as fun and engaging companions, offering entertainment and amusement during social interactions.
Our technology stack
We decided to avoid out-of-the-box solutions like Twillio because the project had considerable product research. That’s why using a custom software solution helped us adapt to changing requirements.
Swift, MVP(with coordinator), GoogleSignIn, AppleSignIn, RestAPI, SpriteKit, CoreMotion, Fastlane, WebRTC, third party libraries(Kingfisher), AVFoundation, XMPPFramework, MFMailComposeViewController, CocoaLumberjack, PushNotifications, FirebaseSignIn, WebRTC(simulcast), multiple environments, ContactsUI, CoreData
WebRTC, Smack (XMPP), Box2D, Kotlin, Clean Architecture, MVVM, Koin, Room, Navigation Component, Firebase, Retrofit, Moshi, CameraX
Back-end: Python (TBD)
Qt, QML, QWebEngine, GStreamer, WebRTC, STUN, TURN, ICE, RTP, DTLS, Janus, VP8, Simulcast, opus, XMPP, HTTP Rest, libphonenumber (Google’s phone number handling library), Firebase, Box2b, NSIS, Installer
- Improved Customer Retention rates: By leveraging 24/7 availability and personalized interactions with Virtual Companions, our client expects to improve customer retention by up to 5-7%, leading to increased loyalty and repeat business.
- Boosted Engagement: With the introduction of the new Virtual Companion feature, our client aims at significant improvement in user engagement, with an expected growth of 10% or more. This enhanced engagement can result in increased interactions, longer session durations, and higher overall user satisfaction.
- Higher Acquisition rates: The availability of Virtual Companions and the enhanced user experience they provide are expected to attract new users and improve acquisition rates by 8-10% or more. The personalized and engaging nature of the Virtual Companions can serve as a unique selling point, attracting potential customers to the platform.
- Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Through personalized interactions and tailored responses, Virtual Companions aim to enhance customer satisfaction, resulting in improved ratings and reviews. Our client expects to see a boost in customer satisfaction by up to 10% or more, leading to positive word-of-mouth and increased brand reputation.
- Increased Sales and Revenue: With personalized recommendations and tailored suggestions, Virtual Companions can drive higher sales and revenue. By analyzing user preferences and behavior, the Virtual Companions can suggest relevant products and promotions, leading to increased order values and cross-selling opportunities. Our client expects to see a potential growth of 8-12% or more in sales and revenue as a result.
- Improved brand differentiation: The inclusion of Virtual Companions is expected to provide our client with a unique selling point and a competitive edge in the market. By offering personalized and engaging experiences, our client can differentiate their brand from competitors and attract a larger customer base. This improved brand differentiation is expected to result in market share growth of 10% or more.
One of the key challenges our team faced was the lack of a clear vision regarding the client's idea. Without a defined scope of features for the interactive social media network, we found it difficult to proceed. As a result, we recommended that the client avoid utilizing solutions like Twilio, as they wouldn't align well with the project's requirements. From a technical standpoint, this project demanded a fully custom solution. Nevertheless, we were thrilled to discover that our expertise could assist the client in bringing their idea to life. The end result was a remarkable product that enables users to communicate within a novel remote reality.