Web design startup AType Studios has launched the private beta of Ohpan, a free personalized side-scrolling interactive ticker feed featuring breaking news, pictures, web links, blog posts, the weather, and tidbits of information. The first 1000 TechCrunch readers to enter the code “TCRUNCH” when prompted here will be able to join the private beta.
Ohpan’s technology is enabled by learning about what communities, sources, and topics users like through their actions on the site (like clicking, saving and forwarding comments). Ohpan will also ask users questions to determine what news should be subscribed to a feed. For example, if a user answers “Yes” to a “Do you use twitter?” question, more Twitter news will be published to the user’s feed. Ohpan then combs through thousands of RSS feeds to find news items and then individualizes the news ticker to the users preferences.
Upon accessing the site, Ohpan lets users link to Facebook or Gmail accounts or sign up as a guest. When a user clicks on a news item, Ohpan gives the user a snapshot of the article or news, showing the source and images associated with the item. The user can “star” the article to save this item and show more like it in the ticker, “strike” the item to limit similar items, “flag” the item as cautionary, or “publish” the item to add to the user’s collection that can be seen by contacts via Facebook. Ohpan also allows users to create a feed featuring items they have composed.
The technology (a proprietary Atype algorithm) picks up on the user’s tastes pretty quickly. And there’s always a need for personalized real-time news. But the value of a ticker (at least on the TV) is having it scroll at the bottom of a screen while a user is viewing other content. Its a little annoying to keep switching between tabs to look at the scroll. Perhaps a widget of the ticker would be a more useful tool, especially if it could also be easily embedded in a social network or stand alone website. Ohpan is also planning to launch an iPhone application in the next few weeks.
Ohpan has some innovative plans for the future, including the ability to score ads as one would news items. According to the founder of Atype, Simon Plashkes, ads will be subject to the same scoring system that other content is and if users overwhelmingly strike an ad, it will be removed from the site. Ohpan is also looking to possibly integrate with user’s Google Reader feeds. Users would be able to forward a Reader item into their feed interface.