Plash – Don’t search for the Content, Let the Content Find You
The Lovers of semantic web clearly understand the importance and need of an aggregation engine that can slice through the noise of the web and collect the right signals based on adaptive learning of the user’s browsing habits.
Taking content aggregation to the next level, Plash is a personalized feed aggregator, with simply exquisite work on the UI and UX to make data consumption smooth and adaptive, no lags when moving from one conent to the other, brilliant use of white space and the screen estate, giving you the feel of having news and updates flowing in your palms. Overall a neat and elegant work of the web smith.
But there’s more to just being an aggregator, the flowy elegance may be the only thing notcieable to you, but there’s a large amount of inventive engineering at work inside.
Here’s how Vikas from Plash explained us:
Plash’s Content aggregation scans through different sources of content from a single platform. The user has a choice to subscribe feeds, follow categories from a range of options. The search function in the application returns the user the closest match to his request from a set of pre-defined categories. These categories are defined by measuring multiple factors like user interest, popular topics and articles, geographical location etc. which are intricately computed to give the most optimum feed for the user.
Plash’s approach of semantic segmentation and tagging of articles is specially designed for delivering these optimum results. With the expanse of user-base and adaptive learning inbuilt in the core technology of the application, it serves immense possibilities of consumer satisfaction with increased usage. The application can be replicated by lateral expansion to multiple domains post news, in future. These could be any of the events and entertainment, medicine, e-commerce.
For businesses, Plash is particular about placing the adverts in its application in coherence with the content curated by the plash team. The application intends to make ads non-intrusive and seamless with the continuity of the content served. Aesthetics make it authentic and integrates the content segments in totality. The application at the backend has the ability to gather crucial consumer behaviour parameters within the universal privacy and security framework. This forms the key of the adaptive learning for a user with an incremental intelligence added with every session of usage by the reader. This serves in numerous ways for the consumers (end-users), customers (brands, products, advertisers etc) and stakeholders (OEM’s, Network providers, publishers). The usage value of this data and its derivative interpretations with time, surpasses its mere cumulative sum.
We won’t let the curiosity kill us, so we’ll directly jump into conversation and quiz Vikas, Founder & CEO of Plash and learn more about this Next-Gen Content Aggregation system.
There are already well-known content discovery apps available for android & iOS, How is Plash different? Can you tell us something about the USP?
Plash is a one stop platform for discovery of news content which includes not just news, but blogs, magazines, journals etc. We collect and index syndicated feed from different content providers in more than ten regional languages of India and reformat it for an enhanced and beautiful reading experience on mobile devices. The problem of delivering the best user experience of reading an article is more crucial on mobile devices given the restricted attention span of the readers. For a country like India, where most of the mobile device owners are first time computing device users, this holds even more importance. Our USP is the way we serve content that is relevant to user. The technology behind Plash performs a behavioral analysis of the reading pattern of user to present content that is relevant for him/her. Through our proprietary algorithms, we intend to make content search for user rather than user searching for content. Our key differentiators include:
- Presence across all major mobile platforms: Plash news app will be native app across all major mobile platforms i.e., Android, iOS and Windows 8 platform.
- Ability to move seamlessly across different devices: user can move across different devices while maintaining same personalization and user experience.
- Ability to share articles and subscribed feeds to contacts via in-app sharing, sms, email, social media and communication apps such as whatsapp.
- Ability to optimize all kinds of content across all kinds of devices, while maintaining the brand identity of the Publishers.
- Integration of advertisement in to the content: Avoidance of intrusive advertisement (No banner ads / no sky scrapers) which hamper the reading experience. Only full paged ads seamlessly integrated into content will be served.
- Serving of ads relevant to the content and based on interest of the user.
What are the customization features available in Plash?
User can customize and subscribe to feeds either:
Automatically: Plash’s proprietary engine is based on advanced artificial intelligence and natural language processing techniques which would provide contextual recommendations as opposed to recommendations based solely on user browsing history. Our semantic analysis technology does a behavioral analysis of the reading habit of user to automatically present content that is most relevant to his reading preference. As a user spends more time on the platform, we will be able to serve more and more relevant content to him.
Manually: Users also have the option to manually subscribe to a feed, either based on categorization or based on search for topic, author or entity, with one-click.
Will Plash work offline as well or does it need to stay connected?
Plash allows users to bookmark content for reading it in offline mode in case of inconsistent data connection.
Will Plash be available as an app for phones or will it also have a web version?
At this moment, we intend to be a mobile only application.
Tell us something about the technology behind Plash’s content discovery and aggregation service.
The technology behind plash tries to solve following four-business objective:
Overcome the problem of unstructured data.
Every minute massive amounts of data are being generated from every phone, website and application across the Internet. These demands, in turn, have created an equally huge, but largely unmet, need for tools that can be used to manage these data, most of which are unorganized.
Solution: To devise a method to index, structure and learn from huge piles of unstructured data
Overcome the problem of Information overload.
The internet has enabled a transition from not having enough information, but left us with too much. How to overcome this ocean of information to directly respond to a consumer need to shape information around their lives and interest will shape the future of content consumption.
– To create one stop platform for content discovery
– To analyse and plot users DNA to present information only relevant for him/her (for easier personalization)
The terminal UI problem.
The challenge with cellular devices is given the numerous constraints of screen size, pixel-sized visual configuration, touch and key press limits, connectivity aspects, hardware sizes etc. And hence the problem of delivering the best user experience of reading an article is more crucial on cell phones. At Plash we believe that great content needs great presentation and perfect optimization across a whole lot of devices. The problem of delivering the best user experience of reading an article is more crucial on mobile devices.
Solution: To overcome the cumbersome experience of online newspaper and blogs and extends the user-experience across a variety of platforms where articles and images can be easily paged through. Content occupies the majority space and not the banner ads, which detracts from user experience.
Rise of Digital Omnivore.
As people become increasingly connected through the use of these devices, we are witnessing the transformation of consumers into digital omnivores able to engage seamlessly with a steady stream of digital content across different platforms.
Solution: To Provide seamless experience across different mobile devices of choice of consumer.
The Plash News aggregation and discovery platform is built using the latest Microsoft technologies including .NET 4.5, Windows Azure and state-of-the-art third party tools including advanced libraries for integration with social networks. We use advance technologies for transforming incoming feeds with the objective of maximizing user experience and readability for various classes of devices.
Our product serves data and information to various classes of devices through highly interoperable REST based WCF services. This means that our product is completely independent of device technology and capable of delivering data to a multitude of devices irrespective of the technology used to implement device side interfaces, be it Java, .NET or any other popular programming language.
The product is designed for high availability by maintaining multiple mirror images of our application servers which are capable of scaling out to cater to bursts in incoming traffic from hundreds of thousands of devices. The product is also designed to be a distributed system to cater to consumers in different geographies. Consumers located in different geographies would have dedicated application servers catering to that region. This increases the overall performance of the product and ensures effective load balancing.
The Team behind Plash.
Vikas Jha – Founder & CEO
MBA: Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
BSc: Nautical Technology, University of Mumbai.
Project Manager (India Initiative) / Associate, Start Green Venture Capital BV, Amsterdam.
Founder& Director, Marine Solutionz Ship Management Private Ltd, Mumbai.
First Navigating officer, Shell Ship Management / V Ships Inc. / Shipping Corporation of India.
Vikram Dwarakanath – Co-Founder & CTO
B.E (Hons) – Electronics and Instrumentation, BITS Pilani.
Technology Evangelist-Windows Azure, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd.
Project Manager, MindTree Ltd.
Senior Technical Leader, ThoughtFocus Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Design Engineer, GE Health Care.
Senior Developer, Aztec Software and Technology Services Pvt. Ltd.
Pavan Madhukar – Co-Founder & CPO
Bachelor of Computer Applications, Christ College, Bangalore.
EPSMM: Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.
Founder, Spirolution Inc.
Business Analyst, MorphicReality Pvt Ltd, Bangalore.
Software Engineer, Mindtree Ltd.
What are your plans for Plash?
There’s a huge shift to content consumption on mobile devices underway right now and we’re really only at the start. We are currently in the process of rolling out our App on the Android and Windows 8 platforms. We hope to grow our user base and integrate content from diverse publishers in the next few months. Over time, we plan to expand to multiple geographies and add new features to our proprietary algorithm which will would provide users with a holistic perspective on news events thereby creating a smarter breed of online readers.