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This Facebook bot will pick your next movie for you

TechCrunch TechCrunch 31/05/2016 Fitz Tepper

As we’ve discussed, Facebook’s bot platform is still in its early stages, and most apps aren’t ready yet to become part of your everyday life. This is mainly due to shortfalls in natural language processing and the trial-and-error process of developers actually figuring out how users are going to use bots.

But one company, the slightly inappropriately named And Chill, has figured out how to build a bot that is actually well suited for Facebook’s chat-based interface.

And Chill is a movie recommendation engine that is eschewing the traditional “like/dislike” model of recommendation, instead pledging to dig deeper into the reasons a viewer would want to watch a certain movie.

Here’s how it works:

The bot can be accessed via Facebook Messenger or SMS. After the superfluous pleasantries standard with all bots these days, And Chill asks you to tell it a movie you liked and why.

For example, I’d say “I liked Concussion because it was a true story about sports that also seemed like a medical mystery film”.

And Chill then analyzes these components and uses them to recommend similar films. The startup isn’t ready to give specific examples on how exactly its algorithm works, besides that it “uses a few different frameworks to detect patterns, attributes, and other factors” to pull movie options for viewers.

While I was at first skeptical of the startup’s lack of transparency around the recommendation process (mainly just because I like knowing how things work) most of that disappeared once I actually received some valuable suggestions.

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All three (decently complicated) questions I posed were answered with movies that I either had already seen and loved, or more frequently hadn’t heard of but looked great. Since I usually tend to watch most movies that are similar to ones I like (i.e all Wes Anderson films) I suspect the algorithm specifically tries to recommend films you are likely to not have seen yet.

Currently, requests take a few minutes to process (so don’t give up if you haven’t heard back yet), which may be because the startup noted that that some requests involve human input “to confirm what their data crunching gives them”.

Overall, the service is a huge leap forward from the traditional way of scrolling through a list of hundreds of movies at a time. That being said, there could still be some improvements that would enhance the experience even more.

For example, each response currently includes a link to a YouTube trailer so you can quickly check out the preview. But it would also be nice to see a rotten tomato score and brief synopsis, so you don’t gave to go searching for any additional information online.

You can try And Chill by messaging them on Facebook here, or texting them at this number: 213-297-3673

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