SingTel has just flipped the switch on the Nara engine for its restaurant site, HungryGoWhere Malaysia, which is expected to help generate smarter recommendation and search results.
The carrier first announced in July it would be licensing technology from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based big data startup, Nara. It said it planned to use the startup's technology for sites under its Digital Life family, which include restaurant review portals, HungryGoWhere and Eatability.
SingTel has three sites for Hungrygowhere--Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, and it will roll out to the latter two after this, presumably if things go well with the Malaysian site.
Nara bills itself as a "Pandora for restaurants", and already runs its own restaurant and hotel recommendation site for the U.S. covering about 500,000 restaurants in North America. Its aim is to help users discover new places to eat at, similar to what Pandora's music service does.
The SingTel deal exposes Nara to the telco's user base of some 434 million mobile customers in Asia, and also marks the first time Nara is working outside of North America.
Nara Logics CEO Thomas Copeman told ZDNet that Malaysian users were "particularly choosy about their food", and the tech company has been working to tune its algorithm for direct matches on the Malaysian site.
"We had the entire country analyzed and understood by (Nara's engine). It was interesting because we ended up at times using very nuanced aspects of the restaurants to correctly match them to users," he said.
HungryGoWhere was a Singapore-based startup which SingTel acquired last year for US$9.4 million.