AI-fuelled HungryGoWhere? Malaysia, where else?
By A. Asohan November 8, 2013
- Singaporean company’s Malaysian portal first to use neural net tech from Cambridge startup Nara
- Nara starts by building ‘Digital DNA’ profile; the more one uses the system, the more accurate it gets
SINGAPORE’S HungryGoWhere, which spread its wings to Malaysia on Aug 24, said it has deployed a hassle-free artificial intelligence (AI) system powered by Nara Logics Inc that would provide personalised food recommendations according to each user’s unique tastes and preferences.
HungryGoWhere, which now has portals in its home ground of Singapore and Australia as well, said that the Malaysian portal is the first to use the AI system which went live on Nov 6, and that it plans to roll it out in its other two markets.
Nara’s personalisation algorithm works by combining what is right for users with where they are, computing recommendations all around them as they move through space.
After the user makes a few selections such as favourite cuisine type, preferred type of eatery and desired price range, Nara starts to build a ‘Digital DNA’ (deoxyribonucleic acid) profile for each user, HungryGoWhere told Digital News Asia via email.
The more one uses the system, the more accurate it gets. As users like and dislike a restaurant, the system is able to modify, filter and refine suggestions to match each user’s evolving Digital DNA profile.
“Food is a common passion of people across the region. Our mission is to make food discovery easy, fun and personalised for the community,” a spokesman said, adding that the launch of its Malaysian portal was part of a strategy to expand into Asia Pacific.
When asked what other countries it will be launching in and when, the spokesman said, “It’s in the pipeline” and that it would share that information when it has an update.
HungryGoWhere, a brand under Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel), also declined to say how many users or the number of staff it has. Its Singapore site, which went live in 2007, has over 100,000 restaurant reviews and information on more than 15,000 establishments.
The Malaysian portal has a source database of over 35,000 eateries throughout the country, HungryGoWhere said in a separate statement.
“Knowing that Malaysians are passionate about good food, we are very excited to be the first to bring this great new technology [Nara] to Asia Pacific, helping users discover the best makan (eating) places that might usually be out of their comfort zone,” said Loo Cheng Chuan, head of ‘Local L!fe’ at SingTel’s Digital L!fe division.
“The integration of personalisation into HungryGoWhere Malaysia is significant in acquiring, engaging, and retaining users who want to find eateries that are most relevant to them, based on their preferences.
“We see web and search personalisation as the future, and we will continue to look for ways to enhance the user experience of the portal and app and make it more relevant and personal to each unique user,” Loo said in the statement.
HungryGoWhere Malaysia also offers a mobile app (pic) available on both the iOS and Android platforms, that helps users find personalised eatery recommendations nearby by using geo-location technology.
It also has a gamification aspect: HungryGoWhere allows users to ‘level up’ as they use the site and mobile app, gaining points and earning badges that will appear alongside their user name.
For example, those who share content regularly with their friends on Facebook become ‘BuzzyBees,’ and ‘Superstars’ are those who amass a certain number of followers. Regular reviewers become ‘Food Critics’, and ‘Shutterbugs’ are those who are obsessed with taking and posting shots of their meals.
There will also be badges for foodies who ‘specialise’ in certain types of cuisine, so a user can then become a ‘thai cuisine expert’, for example, HungryGoWhere said.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Nara Logics is a computational neuroscience company with a cloud-based neural network and predictive analytics engines (click graphic on the right to enlarge) that it claims transform both deep Web and proprietary data sets into next-generation business intelligence.
Saying its mission “is to design and engineer a more personal and actionable web so that you can achieve a life well-found,” the company was founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Thomas Copeman and built under the leadership of noted MIT neuro-computer scientist Dr Nathan Wilson.
“We're building a web that can be tailored to anyone's interests and tastes,” says the company, which completed a US$7-million Series A round in 2012.
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