We had covered recent advances in search technology through a number of posts in the recent past. In Advances in video and multimedia search wherein,covering the plans of major search engines and research groups, we wrote "With Broadband, content explosion, increasing use of the internet for day-to-day activities, using search technologies that were developed for searching flat HTML files would not be sufficient to meet current day requirements. Special technologies are needed to search multimedia files, provide non linear search capabilities, find patterns and provide search results by factoring multidimensional attributes are the focal area of the search industry for now and the near future". We also covered the picture search tool Montage, we initiated coverage of IBM's IBM's plan for corporate search market. Ramesh Jain's insightful perspective on search questioning the need for using yesteryear search mechanisms and his views on advancing search technology was also covered in this blog recently. Jeff Nolan points out this interesting article about the advances that are happening in the search technology . Excerpts with edits:
"Googling" has become synonymous with doing research, online search engines are poised for a series of upgrades that promise to further enhance how we find what we need. New search engines are improving the quality of results by delving deeper into the storehouse of materials available online, by sorting and presenting those results better, and by tracking your long-term interests so that they can refine their handling of new information requests. In the future, search engines will broaden content horizons as well, doing more than simply processing keyword queries typed into a text box. They will be able to automatically take into account your location--letting your wireless PDA, for instance, pinpoint the nearest restaurant when you are traveling. New systems will also find just the right picture faster by matching your sketches to similar shapes. They will even be able to name that half-remembered tune if you hum a few bars.
Much of the digital content today remains inaccessible because many systems hosting (holding and handling) that material do not store Web pages as users normally view them. These resources generate Web pages on demand as users interact with them. Typical crawlers are stumped by these resources and fail to retrieve any content. This keeps a huge amount of information - approximately 500 times the size of the conventional Web, according to some estimates - concealed from users. Efforts are under way to make it as easy to search the “hidden Web" as the visible one. Some search engines attempt to identify patterns among those pages that most closely match the query and group the results into smaller sets. These patterns may include common words, synonyms, related words or even high-level conceptual themes that are identified using special rules. Eg Northern light and Clusty.Another way computer tools will simplify searches is by looking through your hard drive as well as the Web. " Implicit search" capabilities can retrieve relevant information without the user having to specify queries. The implicit search feature reportedly harvests keywords from textual information recently manipulated by the user, such as e-mail or Word documents, to locate and present related content from files stored on a user's hard drive. Microsoft may extend the search function to Web content and enable users to transform any text content displayed on screens into queries more conveniently. Sophisticated software will collect interaction data over time and then generate and maintain a user profile to predict future interests. . Another class of context-aware search systems would take into account a person's location. GPS and RFID may be integrated with search. A key problem in finding a specific tune is how to best formulate the search query. One type of solution is to use musical notation or a musical transcription-based query language that permits a user to specify a tune by keying in alphanumeric characters to represent musical notes. string-matching function must accommodate a certain amount of " noise."
- Future search services will not be restricted to conventional computing platforms,but could be extended to systems like telematics systems, also embedding search capabilities into entertainment equipment such as game stations, televisions and high-end stereo systems.
- Search technologies will play unseen ancillary roles, often via intelligent Web services, in activities such as driving vehicles, listening to music and designing products.
- Another big change in Web searching will revolve around new business deals that greatly expand the online coverage of the huge amount of published materials, including text, video and audio, that computer users cannot currently access.
- Next-generation search technologies will become both more and less visible as they perform their increasingly sophisticated jobs. The visible role will be represented by more powerful tools that combine search functions with data-mining operations-specialized systems that look for trends or anomalies in databases without actually knowing the meaning of the data. The unseen role will involve developing myriad intelligent search operations as back-end services for diverse applications and platforms. Advances in both data-mining and user-interface technologies will make it possible for a single system to provide a continuum of sophisticated search services automatically that are integrated seamlessly with interactive visual functions. Eventually it will be difficult for computer users to determine where searching starts and understanding begins.