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MobRec — Mobile Platform for Decentralized Recommender Systems

Beierle, Felix; Egger, Simone

Recommender systems recommend new movies, music, restaurants, etc. Typically, service providers organize such systems in a centralized way, holding all the data. Biases in the recommender systems are not transparent to the user and lock-in effects might make it inconvenient for the user to switch providers. In this paper, we present the concept, design, and implementation of MobRec, a mobile platform that decentralizes the data collection, data storage, and recommendation process. MobRec's architecture does not need any backend and solely consists of the users' smartphones, which already contain the users' preferences and ratings. Being in proximity in public places or public transportation, data is exchanged in a device-to-device manner, building local databases that can recommend new items. One of biggest challenges of such a system is the implementation of unobtrusive device-to-device data exchange on off-the-shelf Android devices and iPhones. MobRec facilitates such data exchange, building on Google Nearby Messages with Bluetooth Low Energy. We achieve the successful exchange of data within 3 to 4 minutes, making it suitable for the described scenario. We demonstrate the feasibility of decentralized recommender systems and provide blueprints for the development of seamless multi-platform device-to-device communication.
Published in: IEEE Access, 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.3029319, IEEE