Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Visual Search Engines

There are a number of visual search engines around, which instead of providing a list of hits in a linear fashion (like google), different metaphors are used to represent the retrieved pages. Here are some examples:

  • http://www.kartoo.com/ - this is a search engine which uses Cartography as its basis, and uses map like visualisations to represent the importance of pages, and he relations between them. Nice idea, but its not clear how the metaphor works.

  • http://www.search-cube.com/ - uses a cube to represent results, which you move around with either the up, down,left right keys or shift/mouse movement. Thumbnails are shown as tiles on each face of the cube - thumbnails can be pages, images, videos.

  • http://quintura.com/ - presents a tag cloud, together with a linear list of results.

  • http://www.searchme.com/ - presents screenshots of pages, which the user can navigate to either the left or right. Search terms are shown on the retrieved screenshots. Video Demo..

  • http://redzee.com/ - much the same as searchme, but with more pages to left and right displayed.

  • http://middlespot.com/ - presents a set of page screenshots in the same way image search engines work, but these are thumbnails of the retrieved pages. One page at time is expanded and highlighted.

  • http://viewzi.com/ - presents results as tiles, can either view text versions or screenshot thumbnails. To change view you navigate left and right. Video Demo.

  • http://www.sbrows.com - presents a list of thumbnails in the lower part of the browser, and a screenshot of the page being inspected is presented in the middle (and larger) section of the browser. Navigation of the list is done left to right. This is a beta service, and doesn't appear to be working properly; thumbnails clicked on don't seem to match the screenshot when I used it. Video Demo - no sound.

Basic problem with all these systems - how do you represent a multi-dimensional space in 2D or 3D representations? All the the services here are either meta-search engines, or are another type of interface to one search engine (e.g. Google). Its difficult to know what some systems are using as their underlying search services.

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