Monday, June 09, 2008

Visual Search: A Better Way to Find Information?

Visual search is an area that's definitely gaining traction. A couple interesting startups have emerged that put a new twist on searching for information:
  • SearchMe, located in Mountain View, CA, a well founded startup, launched its private beta in March 2008
  • Viewzi, based in Dallas, TX, is offering early access to its visual views
SearchMe takes the Cover Flow approach to visually represent search results. Their model is very similar to Finder in Apple's Mac OS X.

Though very attractive, the SearchMe model is limited when searching for songs, videos, or shopping items. SearchMe always return a web page which may not always be the most appropriate context.

Here comes Viewzi, which created a platform with an API to allow domain experts to build specialized views. As it matures Viewzi is planning to open up its platform to allow the community to contribute views and expertise. Viewzi already provides multiple ways for users to search for information and users can switch between different views based on the type of search that they perform. Some interesting samples from the various view Viewzi provides:
  • Video x3 View
  • 4 Sources View
  • Web Screenshot View
  • Gadget View
  • Everyday Shopping View
  • MP3 Search View
  • Album View

Viewzi also does a pretty good job at associating the relevant views to the search term.
Such focused visual searches are very effective to help locate information more quickly as they clearly set the context for the user. The application of such technologies within the enterprise would be tremendous. It will be interesting to follow Viewzi's evolution as they open up their platform to a broader community and how many business related views emerge.

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