Bubbal makes it easy to publish digital content to a specific location and allows the right content to find the right person at the right time. This means that as you walk down the street, Bubbal will be bringing you content that is most likely to interest you, even if you are not looking at your phone. Bubbal’s predictive content algorithm uses your context, such as your location or proximity to iBeacons, together with your interests and usage patterns, to determine what content you will like most. When Bubbal thinks there is something you will like, you get a buzz notification on your phone to let you know it’s found something for you.
The Business Challenge
The first two versions of Bubbal were developed using a rudimentary algorithm that presented a sorted list of information for a particular position. The company knew at the time that they needed to develop a more robust mechanism for predicting the content that was going to be most interesting to the user, but the skills to develop this were not in the team.
After being contacted by Bubbal, Interface scoped out the company’s requirements and sent out a search to the universities for relevant academic expertise. Six of the universities expressed an interest in the project, and Bubbal requested discussions with two of them. The company ultimately chose Dr Alistair Morrison from the University of Glasgow to work with them on this project. There was a dovetail fit with Morrison’s academic interests and research and the company’s business objectives. The company briefed Alistair on the background to the innovation, their ambition for the future and the current state of the technology. They also provided access to the backend systems they had developed to ensure that the work undertaken was capable of being implemented by their team.
Work on the project was funded by a Scottish Enterprise First Step Award of £5,000.
It was clear from discussions between the company and the University that there was a shared interest in solving the challenge of the location-based recommender algorithm and that the academic shared the same passion as the company. Alistair prepared a detailed report of the potential approaches the company could adopt along with suggested implementation patterns for their developers to implement. He worked closely with their lead programmer to ensure that they were able to deploy the algorithm and, at the same time, ensure that they could do so in a way that was scalable.
Once the Bubbal team integrated this into application, it provided a clear advantage over competitor systems; offering the ability to consistently deliver targeted, relevant place-based content to people using context, proximity, interests and past usage behavior.
The success of the recommender algorithm project with the University of Glasgow crystallised the opportunity in the company’s innovation – namely that they are able to offer a completely new experience both for users and customers.
This capability is attracting the interest of major players in the location-based marketing arena and takes Bubbal beyond related platforms that are based on delivering non-personalised recommendations based on global popularity.
As a result of this partnership, Bubbal is looking to achieve revenue in 7 figures within 3 years and will be employing upwards of 25 people to cope with this growth.
In terms of future development, the company has already been in discussions with the University of Glasgow for a follow-on project to deepen their recommendation to include more contextual objects and new ways of assessing user interest from content that is read and/or shared.
This innovation, if proved successful, will help to cement Dr Alistair Morrison as one of the leading minds in the development of spatial recommendation systems.
“We are benefitting from real customer interest now, especially based around the work on the predictive content algorithm, so this is really, really making a difference. I want to sincerely thank the University of Glasgow, especially Dr. Alistair Morrison, for their support. It has been, and will continue to be, invaluable in helping our business grow. Looking forward to the next collaboration”, said Mark Sorsa-Leslie, Co-Founder, Bubbal.