A recent survey by Japanese ad agency Hakuhodo indicated that consumers in Tokyo have very saturated contact with media these days. So perhaps it’s no wonder that online news curation services are getting lots of attention recently. The technology behind these services seems to be only getting better. Tokyo-based startup JXPress is providing one such service, a news curation app called Vingow.
Earlier this week, the startup added an interesting new feature to its iOS app, pulling the lead portion of curated news articles, creating handy abstracts for users.
The startup’s founder and CEO Katsuhiro Yoneshige explained:
If you look at a service like Summly, they’re doing this pretty easily (creating abstracts from curated articles), because in English and they can detect which part of the article is the lead, by finding key nouns, verbs, and finding the frequency of spaces or finding a period in a sentence. However, this process is very difficult to do in Japanese.
To solve this problem, they needed to use natural language processing technology. The team initially thought this would take a lot of time, but things proceeded far better than they expected.
Some of our readers may recall that Yahoo has recently acquired the aforementioned news curation app Summly, which was developed by a 17-year-old in UK. The Vingow app was developed by students attending Waseda University, and is very similar to the Summly app, not only in function but also in that it was created by young developers.
In order to prevent possible copyright issues (which sometimes occur with news curation apps) the team is discussing with their legal advisor and news media companies.
Since their launch back October of 2012, the app has been growing well, seeing a 250% increase in downloads over the last two months. Their users read as many as 22 articles at a time on average. Yoneshige adds:
In terms of duration of visits, a typical user will stay on general news sites for a few minutes. But on our app they stay for as long as 40 minutes. […] Since our launch last year, we’ve been tagging articles to improve accuracy, giving better recommendations to users. From now, we’ll focus on making it easier to find interesting articles. These two approaches will definitely help our users save their time.
JX Press was founded back in 2008, and introduced the first edition of the Vingow app in 2011. The startup has previously received investments from Cyber Agent, NetAge, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and others.
In the Japanese media landscape, they will definitely be one to watch moving forward.