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How to Defragment the Human Experience: Angel Munoz, Mass Luminosity

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

This is the Authentic Avenue podcast episode featuring Dana Marineau, Chief Marketing Officer of Rakuten, with host Adam Conner.

This is a link you can use to find Authentic Avenue, a marketing podcast hosted by Adam Conner, on Apple Podcasts. Remember to subscribe, rate, and review!

On today's Authentic Avenue podcast, Adam learns from Angel Munoz, Founder, President and CEO of Mass Luminosity, about how to invest in suspending disbelief and defragment the human experience...all through tech. How do you maximize humans while choosing atoms over bits?

Mass Luminosity has also just launched its non-beta release of Beacon, a video communications platform to rival the Zooms of the world. Check it out:

Enjoy! Full transcript below.


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FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW: (powered by AI; accuracy not guaranteed; provided by Descript)

Adam Conner: [00:00:00] Angel. It's great to talk with you. How are you doing today?

Angel Munoz: [00:00:03] I'm doing phenomenal. Adam, how about yourself?

Adam Conner: [00:00:06] I'm doing well. And I really want to know all of the things that you're doing seemingly simultaneously with mass luminosity. The reason being when we met for the first time, cause we're not meeting for the first time.

Now you had mentioned that the core of this is to invest in suspending disbelief, and then also. To defragment the human experience. These are huge statements, goals, anything, and it makes me wonder, uh, how, but we'll get into the how in a bit, let's start with the, what would you mind for our audience saying exactly what mass Lumina is, does provides an ease to the world?

Angel Munoz: [00:00:48] Um, sure. Massimo non-city is a company that I founded 10 years ago. Actually, it'll be 11 pretty soon. And, um, It, the purpose of it was to, um, utilize technologies, uh, to bring people together, to facilitate communication, to facilitate interaction between people. And that sense, uh, I coined the phrase, uh, to defragment the human experience or to defragment humanity.

And, uh, and, uh, with that, we. Started, uh, deploying, uh, different technologies along the way. And then we concentrated those technologies into two major projects. One of them is a social media network for technology enthusiasts and PC gamers called G tribe. And the other one, which is the one that caught your attention, Adam is a new answer, uh, to, um, services like.

For example, zoom and it's called beacon and it launches, um, and a couple of weeks.

Adam Conner: [00:01:54] So yeah, I did notice that because our first meeting was held on beacon or early version of it. And I can immediately empathize with the experience of using it quicker than the experience of gaming. I mean, I, I, I love video games.

I have a PC that I play video games on. Not very good at them, but I love them dearly. But yeah, the beacon thing seemed like a real world changer because it was very clean, very lightweight, not a whole lot in the way. And maybe that was why we eventually started talking about investing in suspending disbelief.

Is that more of a beacon centric thing? Can you explain what you meant by that? Yeah. Um,

Angel Munoz: [00:02:33] so when you're on a video conference, for example, or even on an audio call, there is a, there's a certain amount of awareness that you're not talking to the person. Uh, you're not in the same room. You're not, um, just the software, um, that is designed around those concepts tend to be, uh, just geared about, uh, to.

Transfer information back and forth. And, and we took a more holistic approach. We analyze how the eye perceives what we look at when we're communicating. What kind of sounds are more familiar to us? Uh, what sounds more natural? What frames per second are more natural. These are all things that we borrowed from gaming.

And so in that sense, we, we kind of suspend the disbelief that you're on a video conference and you want to make it seem like we're transporting you into the same room as the person that you're talking to. And that's really, it's sort of a, you know, pseudo ho holodeck. So we want people to feel. Uh, that they're actually communicating with someone and the, and then, and, and we, you know, resolution and the dimensions of the image, all kinds of different things that we, uh, such color saturations that make the experience believable.

Adam Conner: [00:03:54] So another thing that really caught my ear when we spoke was alongside of all of this, which is providing experiences around the virtual. Is a commitment to live in truth. Now, the reason why I liked that so much, just because it seemed to rub up particularly well against the word that I like to go over on this show, which of course is authenticity.

And so maybe as a result, let's set a baseline here with how you define that word. How would you think about the word authentic given all of the things that master Manasseh does and, uh, just your experience, uh, founding and running the business.

Angel Munoz: [00:04:34] Um, that's a, that's a great question. Um, I would say Adam that, um, um, I like the word truth and, uh, to be authentic, uh, is so authentic is almost a form of courage indication, correct?

You're you're you are somewhat defining how the communication should come across, especially from a corporation to the general audience. Um, For me, it's simpler to think about truth and what is truth and truth means that you don't hide behind, um, uh, the curtains, when you do something wrong, you openly admit it.

Uh, when you, uh, when the company has quite frankly screwed up a piece of technology and it. You know, and, and, and our, um, members and users go through an odd event. We said, okay, it was our error. There was, we don't blame anyone. We don't, we don't go out there and say things like that. And I, and. I'm not sure it wasn't meant as a form of marketing, quite frankly, Adam, but, but, but the audience resonates so strongly with that, that they become almost hyper fans of, of that kind of communication.

And we're seeing, you know, fortunately in corporate America that some of the tech leaders that are embracing that style of being more authentic and being more truthful are the ones that are rising to the top. So. There seems to be a need and the general public's mind for. Truth and for authentic communication.

And so as far as the definition, I would say, you're not hiding behind the marketing slogans or, you know, or having, you know, a team of PR people that are constantly correcting things. It just being honest with the, with, with the end-user and with the people that support you and telling them this is something that we think we did.

Right. And Hey, we did this one. We need to go back and redo again. And when you speak that way, People support you and in more ways than I thought were even possible. So that's how I see it. Now

Adam Conner: [00:06:44] let's talk for a moment about atoms and bits, because when it comes to, uh, being authentic, I have this, I guess, in your world, maybe like legacy understanding of what really is real.

And that is just the real. And that's because I'm not all day in the tech world, although I do produce content, which lives virtually. And specifically what I mean by atoms versus bits and listeners. This is H T O M yes. Versus bits. Is that when you choose or have the ability to choose between the virtual and the material, you choose the bits, the virtual over that material.

And obviously you like live your truth and you, you establish that commitment to live in it. How does that have an impact on authenticity or does it.

Angel Munoz: [00:07:34] Well, that's, uh, that's in fact, that's the challenge. The challenge is that's what motivates us? What that's, what drives us? Uh, yes. Um, bits in, in the sense of opposites of Adams, that's a concept that was actually first discussed many years ago by Nicola Negroponte, uh, in a book that he wrote, uh, called being digital.

And, uh, and it really had a strong impact on me, but. You're right. Uh, if you're in an Adam format, meaning if we were sitting in the same room right now, uh, you know, all your senses are engaged, uh, and it's tends to be a lot more natural, but the challenge that I, um, that I accepted and the goal and the pursuit is how do we turn those?

Bit experiences and to be somewhat indistinguishable from, from Adam experiences. So we will choose bits over Adams, but, but, but in the same sense, we want to bring us much as what we recognize as an atom or a material or a physical experience. Into that virtual domain. That's why beacon is 4k resolution.

That's why we use binaural audio. That's why we saturate colors. That's why we show landscape instead of squares or circles. Uh it's because of it. Produces a more natural response from people, the mind, the human mind, the brain has a way of perceiving reality and games. You know, your a game or Adam, when you're in a game, you may lose that sense that you're inside the game.

You know, that's a, that's a moment of sort of suspension of disbelief. You may believe for a second, that that's an altered reality that you've just entered. Why not do that with video conferencing? So that's, that's what we decided to do.

Adam Conner: [00:09:23] I have had that experience mostly, uh, in games that are. I guess like super, either intense or suspense full that's when I.

Put myself in there or perhaps am transported in there,

Angel Munoz: [00:09:37] but yeah, go ahead. Emotional response. So that emotional response is predicated by the technology that makes you believe for, for even a fraction of a second, that you may be in the re you, you w you really are threatened. You really are saving the world.

You really are. And the post-apocalyptic reality. Those are exactly what games. Those are the major premises of games, too, that suspension of disbelief. And then when, when I looked at video conferencing and I saw just video conferencing, I just didn't see an effort to make those experiences more human and more and less, um, taxing to the mind, to the eyes, uh, and to see more natural.

Adam Conner: [00:10:27] When we talk about, or when you talk about the ways that make the experience more natural, the 4k, the binaural audio, the saturated colors, when it comes to de fragmenting, the human experience has we started with, I think that certainly helps with that, but it implies that elsewhere, this, uh, this almost purposely doesn't happen.

So here's what I want to ask. Because another thing that we had talked about prior is that it seems that. What you are doing by defragment fragmentary humanism experience is just maximizing the input that the atoms have on the bits. Do you not see that happening elsewhere within larger big tech? I mean, my guess is no, but to what extent?

Do you see that human side being minimized elsewhere and how are you combating it? Right.

Angel Munoz: [00:11:14] Um, that's a, that's a fantastic question. Um, you know, there are subtle ways and then there's more obvious ways. Um, so the best way to look at that, Adam, from my perspective is to think about. What reality needs to be created in people's minds.

Again, if your interest is simply an only maximize our return on investment on each person that's on your platform. So then you're motivated by another set of rules, which are driven by, in some cases through AI and some cases through maximizing the amount of people that could be on the call and, and all that without no, with no concern about anything else.

So for example, on social media, uh, when you and I met, we talked about this a little bit, but you know, we know the algorithms are there too. To create discord to create, to create animosity, to, to polarize people to, and I know that why, but the question it's really not that it's happening. It's why is it happening?

Why is fragmentation of the human of human communication so profitable and it's because it increases engagement. So I think through platforms like beacon, uh, that. Actually relax. People give it, make, make them a little, a bit more natural that we counteract that trend and we make the world just slightly, a little bit better place.

So, because it's a lot harder for you to be rude to a person, if you really feel you're in the same room with them, Adam. So, if you feel that they're just a little stamp, you know, on your, on your, on your computer and you know, their stamp size, you know, uh, image or you don't even see them, then it's a lot easier for you to say non nonsense things.

So the way that we look at it, we always say it's like bringing P we, we want to bring people to feel that they're in each other's home. So, because that's one of the area, you know, it's very rare for somebody to walk into your home, Adam and started insulting you. That's not really the way that no, I have not

Adam Conner: [00:13:29] happened.

That's not happened commonly to me.

Angel Munoz: [00:13:32] Exactly. And that's what we want to do with beacon. I know it sounds, it sounds like so aspirational, but we are getting reports back from, we have 30,000 people that are beta testing it, and we just got reports back, even from our board of directors, uh, just sent, uh, um, uh, You know, comments back on the experience, and they're all saying that it's just incredible how it transports you and makes you think and believe that you are talking to someone and you're both in the same room.

So you lose that. So that's a suspension of disbelief, right?

Adam Conner: [00:14:05] And listeners, I know that we're talking a lot about this and you can't see it because you're simply listening to us. Allow me to very briefly describe my first experience with us. So I jumped in to beacon and at first of course, You are joined by the other party and you have all the common things like, yeah.

You know, your hang up button, your mute button, all that. And then the very quickly, all of it, the overlay like the shading around all that just falls completely way in the entire screen is the other person. And that is not something that I get, I think as far as I can remember with like any other of these services.

So I was like, You know, with a game it's like similar, like if I'm playing a game and I'm like, I'm more immersed by a game that has like minimal heads up splay, as opposed to like a big like board of Warcraft type hot key board and like all this other crap that let me out of the experience. Cause I'm more focused on that than I am on the thing that I'm doing.

And I felt something similar here. It was just less distraction. And um, if you can get your hands on looking at it, I, you know, I'd recommend it because it really did feel. Natural, you know, not like something where I'd have to, like, if I were on Google or zoom or something like that, I'd have to like go to the full screen button and then I'd necessarily lose all that stuff.

I have to go back in and go what a hassle. And this was not that hassle. So I liked it a lot. And hopefully listeners that helps to describe sort of what we're talking about here again on the beacon side, totally from the G tribes. I bet I'm focusing on beacon because, cause that was what I thought had the clearest.

It covers the clearest gap to an authentic experience online from what I've personally experienced. Let's talk about that authentic experience for a second, actually, angel, I let let's hold. Cause I think I cut you off there.

Angel Munoz: [00:15:50] No, I thank you. I was just going to thank you for that, Adam. Um, um, wow. Uh, uh, I'm, I'm touched by, by your honesty and, and how straightforward and how you noticed the subtleties that we put into that into beacon.

So you're right. Uh, when you join a beacon call, you have. We, we used only the icons. We try to stay away from the written word because that's even more distracting. So you have two columns on each side and in those columns are already translucent. So they're telling you that, you know, there's a sense right away that these are men.

This is a minimalist, the icons are actually outlines. And then all of a sudden, the. Vanish and disappear. And now all you have in front of you is the person. And then if you move your mouse or you tap your screen, if you're on a touch screen, then they slide by gate back in so that you can use any other functionalities.

And that in itself gets so many comments. Thank you, Adam. For that, that's a very strong recommendation. I really appreciate that. Oh, well, it's

Adam Conner: [00:16:53] my pleasure. And it's, it's, it's true to what I experienced and Hey, I'll tell you what if, if you all can figure out how to make a computer screen. Where the camera is right in the eye hole of the person I'm looking at, that'd be even better.

Cause that's like the next problem is that I feel like I've never actually. Looking at someone, and this is the closest I've gotten to that because there's nothing else in the way right now that that would be something. But anyway, um, that's for another conversation,

Angel Munoz: [00:17:16] I actually can interject by telling you the advice that I saw, that a company approached me that has a patent on a solution for that.

Really, we may be working with them. Yeah. It's a very clever way of doing it. So I was very surprised when, when they showed me what they were, how they made that work.

Adam Conner: [00:17:35] Interesting. Wow. Well, something to look forward to then listeners, I guess, and me as well, because that is a that's like future level stuff.

That's stuff that I can't even, I can't even visualize, but I guess somebody has, I'll go back to, to this. Authentic experience once again, just because I like to ask folks in which moments in their business, they feel that they are, uh, operating, working, being their most authentic selves. Where do you think that is for you angel today as the person who heads all of this up?

Angel Munoz: [00:18:08] Um, that's, uh, uh, that that's kind of a. When I think about the answering that question is sort of a timeline, right? It's a timeline of events and things. Yeah. What, what maybe,

Adam Conner: [00:18:21] what are some of the watershed moments where you were looking back? You're like, yep. That's where we, that's where we were really.

That was either our north star moment or that's where we were pointed at it.

Angel Munoz: [00:18:31] I think it came, um, early in, in the history of mass luminosity, which by the way, it's already a, um, paradoxical name. Uh, some of your audience members will know that that's an algorithm or formula that's used in, in astrophysics, but now it's a registered trademark of our company.

Um, and. You know, so that moment, the moment that I was going to talk to you about is that moment of naming the company. Um, I was, um, I was in a, in a room full of. Us startups, because this obviously started as a small company and they were all pitching different ideas to a group that was sitting of investors.

And so it was my turn. And when they introduced me and said, mass luminosity, some people chuckled. They thought it was a ridiculous name. And then I realized how disconnected we are from the meaning of words, mass luminosity light for the masses. And that really was the moment. I mean, I'm happy that happened.

Obviously they didn't get any investments from the group because they, they just thought the name was ridiculous, but that's what I, then what it did was it made me think, why did I name this company then? Uh, that, and then, you know, mass. Luminosity light for the masses. And that's sort of, what's the realization point of that means if you're going to be on the light side of the force, you want to be truthful and authentic.

So they merged together. And so it was in the naming and presenting the company for the first time to investors that I now, no one cares. Now, you know, this is obviously 11 years later, so no one really, you know, mass, someone asks her kids just a name, but back then, I'm not sure why it was so comical.

Adam Conner: [00:20:23] Well, that was your mean, that's a moment that, that only somebody who's been there since day one can really appreciate.

And you know, it was important to have those, those founding members, the whole, the whole way driving from that, you know, first, those first, like I said, watershed moments. I think that's really fun to think about those I on this show, talk a lot about like the various avenues that. Businesses have through which their authenticity shines through not to keep like the light naming convention going here.

But that is an interesting story. And, uh, I, I feel like when I named the show itself, like, that's, that, that was a moment for me, that I thought was sort of my own best case study, but. A story for another day and another guest,

Angel Munoz: [00:21:04] that's fantastic that you had somewhat the same experience, but, you know, uh, when you're, when you, you know, if I could give some advice to some of your, uh, younger I'm 61.

So, you know, I, I, I grant myself the right to speak sometimes to the younger people. No, it's good.

Adam Conner: [00:21:19] I was going to finish that. I was going to ask for some advice around out, so let's just go in the

Angel Munoz: [00:21:23] teaching mode. So yeah, I would say that one of the things that you have to have is an entrepreneur. Is a very, you know, you have, there's a couple of things, but number one is you have to have fixed skin.

You cannot, you cannot go through life thinking that everyone is going to be excited about your idea and revolutionary ideas do not occur through consensus. They, they actually, you have to battle the current. So a revolutionary idea, like beacon, that brings so much, quite frankly, if I can say it myself, a much better experience in all respects to the video conferencing platforms, it's something that we're going to have to fight to establish it.

No, one's going to give up their percentage of the audience or percent or, or, or users freely. So you have to have not only. You know, the ability to take criticism and, and, and not be moved off center by it. But also you have to have the determination that in, in, in a bit of the insanity, thinking that you're right, and everybody else may be wrong.

And that's what drives innovation. Those people are the ones. I mean, look at Elon Musk with Tesla. When I first heard about electric cars, which. Yeah, I thought it was, it was absolute nonsense. And now I have two of them in my garage. So it's just that kind of determination and that kind of not, not paying attention to the people who make it, their life experience to always criticize others is like the best advice I give to all my employees and every single one of them, I'm just, I'm training them to be independent business.

Owners and hopefully entrepreneurs to every single one of them is, is, is potentially, uh, going to split off on their own. And that's, and that's really the best gift I can give to the world.

Adam Conner: [00:23:19] Well, I thank you for sharing some of that gift here for bringing that, that light in that moment to us and for continuing to bring, uh, shall I say it, the luminosity to the masses?

I appreciate your perspective here for teaching me a little bit about this grand defragmentation of the human experience, how it plays into that, a word. And for everything that you're doing, can't wait to see that screen integration, but, uh, hopefully more people will see beacon very, very soon, uh, congrats on the upcoming launch.

And thanks very much for being here.

Angel Munoz: [00:23:46] Thank you Adam, for having me appreciate it.


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