Finnish researchers have developed a new search engine which reportedly outperforms the existing ones, allowing people to find what they’re looking for more quickly.
Described in an article in the latest issue of the Communications of the ACM journal, the SciNet search engine turns Internet searches into recognition tasks by creating what the researchers call a topic radar with relevant keywords related to the search.
“It’s often hard for people to put what they are looking for into words,” said the project’s coordinator Tuukka Ruotsalo, a scientist at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT).
“Their search needs often do not become more focused until they begin the actual search. The SciNet search engine solves these problems. It’s easier for people to recognise what information they want from the options offered by the SciNet search engine than it is to type it themselves.”
In addition to displaying keywords and topics potentially related to the originally searched term, the topic radar behind the search engine also displays the relationships between those keywords.
The relevance of each keyword is displayed as its distance from the centre point of the radar – those more closely related are nearer to the centre, and those less relevant are farther away.
The search engine also offers alternatives that are connected with the topic, but which the user might not have thought about. By moving words around the topic radar, users can specify what information is most useful for them.
The researchers believe the engine could help reduce time people spent searching for things online, which is getting more and more complicated with the ever increasing amount of data filling the digital universe.
“According to some estimate the digital universe such as data and documents is expected to grow by 2020 by a factor of 10,” said HIIT’s Professor Giulio Jacucci.
“Tools that help us transform the time we spend in searching into discovering and understanding information will be increasingly important to enhance productivity and creativity.”
The SciNet search engine was developed by the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), a joint research institution of Aalto University and the University of Helsinki in Finland.
The team is currently seeking to commercialise the product through a private company.