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Mass customization and personalization news
An image of the Jambo application
2005-10-25: Jambo Networks recently announced that Amazon.com's former Chief Scientist, Dr. Andreas Weigend, will become its Chief Scientist.
Jambo Networks provides a service which a few years ago would have been considered the stuff of science fiction. Their service enables members to discover and connect with those they want to meet that are nearby, wherever they happen to be. This 'proximity matching' service (the author's term) from Jambo works online or offline and is designed to run in the background and notify users when interesting people are around them.
In effect, if you are walking down a street and you have indicated that you are interested in, for example, modern architecture, and another person is nearby who is also interested in the same topic, you will be notified that other person is in the vicinity.
Based in Dallas, Texas, the company markets through partnerships with affinity groups such as online social networks, conferences, universities, WiFi hotspots and associations, to enable their members to self-organize and meet in person, anywhere in the world. The company has filed patents on its detection, synchronization and matching software technology.
At Amazon.com, Dr. Weigend was responsible for real time prediction of customer behaviour, personalization and recommendations. This work was reflected in the familiar system whereby notices appear next to a particular book saying "people who bought this book also bought...". With Jambo Networks, the message seems to be "someone who is like you is near you".
Dr. Weigend is interested in the interaction between people and data. His professional expertise is in machine learning, data mining, and discovery algorithms. At Jambo, he will focus on personalizing the user experience and on enhancing the algorithms matching users.
"We are thrilled to have Andreas. It's a huge win for Jambo users who will benefit from the same sophisticated personalization and recommendations that they love about Amazon.com," said Charles Ribaudo, co-founder of Jambo Networks.
Dr. Weigend is reported as saying: "Finally, a product that leverages the proximity between people and introduces them to those they might want to get to know. The untapped potential in new discoveries at any given time or place is amazing. This could really change our lives."
"Personal area matching is not simply telling people about others nearby they might want to chat with," said Jim Young, co-founder of Jambo Networks. "The purpose is to bring people together in the real world, so they can forget about technology and interact face-to-face. Providing highly personalized and accurate recommendations is very complex, but it is one of the most important aspects of what we do."
Jambo Networks is the first company to design technology to let people who share something in common to directly find each other and network face-to-face, when they want to. Founded in April, 2003, the company is privately held. Jambo uses WiFi PDAs, laptops, and cellphones to match users nearby. You join Jambo through an affiliation you already have - your school, alumni association, a conference you attend, an online social network - any trusted network based on a common interest. Individuals can also sign up for free during a beta period currently under way. For groups, pricing is based on the size of the group and the features provided.
When someone wants to join as part of their group affiliation or as an individual, they firstly create a bio about themselves and what they are looking for on the Jambo.net site. They then download the Jambo application and load it onto their chosen device. It then provides an alert when someone of similar interests is nearby, and the two can then meet face to face.
The system also includes filtering options, where you can lower your Availability Level using a slider bar, to reveal only the most relevant people around you. Limiting your availability, filters your notification for less relevant matches and makes you "invisible" to those around you that are filtered.
Operating systems currently supported are Windows XP or Windows 2000, and Mac OSX 10.3/10.4. It is planned to release versions for Windows Mobile 2003 for PocketPC/Smartphones, Palm, and Symbian OS in the near future.
In the opinion of this website, Jambo.net could become the online world's biggest success story over the next 1-2 years. It is a system of personalizing opportunities for human contact. It is a way of transferring the advantages of online tools like discussion groups from the virtual to the real world. With these advantages will no doubt come new concerns about personal privacy and safety. However, if past experience is anything to go by, convenience and benefit will outweigh reservations. A few years ago, some people raised concerns about privacy in relation to website cookies. More recently, Google's Gmail program was criticised for targetting advertisements to users based on the content of their emails. However, none of these things actually halted the widespread acceptance and use of the technologies in question.
Normally this website is cautious in its predictions about the future, but in the case of Jambo.net, it must be said: It's gonna be huge.