Have Europeans made the Google killer?

Tue 3 November 2009 14:00, Bas van den Beld

Have Europeans made the Google killer?

"The only thing that can kill Google is Google itself," someone once said. That remains true when it comes to marketing of their product. When it comes to efficiency of the search engine however there might be a "Google killer" out there already. European researchers from the MESH project now have created a integrated semantic search platform which could threaten Google's technologies.

The semantic search engine can "watch’ films, ‘listen’ to audio and ‘read’ text to find relevant responses to semantic search terms." The researchers claim that for the first time a platform can combine semantic search with  a host of associated tools to deliver more relevant information.

The MESH integrated project received funding from the ICT strand of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Semantic search is not embraced by everybody. Where 'regular' search looks at a series of numbers and looks for patterns in those numbers, in semantic search looks at concepts and possibilities.

Only recently Google's CEO Eric Schmidt predicted a big future for video search. The MESH project feels their search engine is "state of the art" when it comes to video.

Pedro Concejero, coordinator of the MESH project, explains:

“The annotation system is capable of identifying the general scene setting, such as whether a video is a studio shot or a shot recorded on location. With adequate training, it can also detect (within some error margins) the general topic of the video, such as a scene about an earthquake or a flood. It can also find a number of salient objects within the scene, such as persons or fire, but cannot yet identify consistently objects with great variations in shape or aspect.”

The search engine can not really be used by 'normal people' at the moment because of the quantity of data it delivers. To make it usable for non-technical people they created a manual annotation tool.

The researchers don't believe this will be the end of keyword search, "but it could well be the beginning of the end." They believe semantic search engines will be closer to what people really are searching for. Instead of looking at the separate keywords of a search query, it will first analyze the query and then give back more relevant results.

The MESH project also believes user generated content can benefit. "The MESH project’s automated annotation tool was central to the platform’s success, and it could be developed to work with user-generated content" they claim.

The MESH project now is finished but the researchers are already looking at a follow up. Concejero says that some of the partners may go forward with another project in the future.

To get more insight or read about the project in two articles (one and two) at Cordis Europe.

So is this the Google killer? Probably not, but it is a peek in the future of search.

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