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Area 120 takes on Pinterest with ‘Keen’ by using Google ML recommendations

Area 120 is Google’s internal incubator for experimental efforts that usually get phased out and rolled into existing products. Keen is the latest Google Area 120 project and is rather Pinterest-esque in nature.

Keen lets you curate the content you love, share your collection with others and find new content based on what you have saved.

It starts by making a “keen” — or “board” in Pinterest parlance — for topics you’re interested in. Examples include “bake delicious bread at home” and “start an indoor garden.”

In addition to users manually adding content, this Google experiment leverages machine learning and Search to find “helpful content related to your interests.” On the ML front, the Keen team worked with Google’s People and AI Research (PAIR) group to make the system “human-centered.”

The more you save to a keen and organize it, the better the recommendations become. Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can start curating a keen and save a few interesting “gems” or links that you find helpful. These bits of content act like seeds and help keen discover more and more related content over time.

Each keen has an Explore, Saved, and Searches tab, while other controls are above. They can either be private or publicly shared with others. In turn, you can follow other keens with Google touting “thousands of hand-curated lists from the community.” As updates are added, you can get alerts.

A similar feature exists as part of the Google app’s Collections feature, which is also like Pinterest but closely integrated with Search. You can save links and images from the web with Google also providing recommendations. The overlap is curious, and Keen could always be folded into Collections to provide a more focused experience.

Keen from Area 120 today is available on the web and Google Play.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: