Strands has announced the five finalists in the Strands $100K Call for Recommender Start-Ups. From music to video to pharmaceutical drug development recommendations, these plucky startups from all around the world will now present at the Association for Computing Machinery's Recommender Systems 2008 conference in Switzerland and one will be offered a $100k investment from Strands.International recommendation technology provider
In a world more swamped with content options every day, recommendation technology is poised to make a huge difference in our experience online. We identified recommendation tech as one of the 5 most important trends for 2008 but we may have jumped the gun just a little bit. Below is a quick profile of each of the five Strands finalists working to bring more of this paradigm into the present market, followed by our thoughts on which one we're most interested in.
Gravity R&D is a four person team from Budapest University of Technology in Hungary. Strands says the team has built a "magic button" that "provides TV viewers instant personalized entertainment at any given time with relevant program tips instantaneously on customer demand. It automatically schedules recordings with the highest probability on user's interest." The Gravity team has participated extensively in the NetflixPrize, a contest in which thousands of teams have aimed to improve the Netflix recommendation algorithm by 10% accuracy. That contest has a $1 million prize and Gravity is currently in 5th place on the leaderboard there.
Sentimetrix is another four person team, this one from the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Sciences. This startup analyzes text content around the web and "has automated sentiment extraction/analysis/scoring, the ability to find and quantify opinions in text." If this kind of technology is of interest to you, see also our review yesterday of the new BooRah API.
iletken is a mysterious project built by four Turkish college students at Koc University. It balances personal and social behavior to recommend advertisements "based on relevance."
Dominiek ter Heide in the Netherlands. Ter Heide also worked on the Japanese social learning platform iKnow, which launched an API yesterday. Recoon appears to use the iPhone's GPS, user attention data like Last.fm listening history and the GeoNames reverse lookup API to notify you when you're near the location of an event you might like to participate in.Reccoon is a stealth project built by Peter Tegelaar and
Strands describes Commendo like this: "Commendo uses recommendation technologies to optimize the drug design process in the pharmaceutical industry, including speeding up drug development and the minimization of adverse drug reactions."
All of these sound interesting but the one we're most excited to learn more about is Commendo, the pharmaceutical drug development recommendation engine. We're dubious about the political and economic world of big pharma, but we love innovation and that's a field where there's enough money and science on the line that there's a premium put on magic. Strands has products for all kinds of industries (we think their banking service is the coolest) but we'd love to see what Strands plus the Netflix Prize champs Commendo can do in pharma research.
Will Any of These Make a Difference?
Could these startups change the world? With a little bit of funding and possible acquisition by Strands, they could. Strands has customers around the world in everything from music to banking and mobile. They have a lifestreaming service, ala FriendFeed, that doesn't seem to be going anywhere yet, but getting backing from Strands is a great step for any little recommendation startup.
Bring on a smart future augmented by powerful recommendation technology!
Disclosure: Strands is an RWW sponsor. We'd have written about recommendation startups anyway, though, because we think they're really cool.