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Blinkx to debut slimmed-down search tool

Demos personalised streaming video feeds

Search engine Blinkx has launched a 1MB downloadable search tool that won’t hobble your apps while seeking out content likely to be of interest.

Pico launched today and is essentially a far trimmer version of Blinkx’s existing search tool. While Blinkx previously archived and searched both users' desktops and the internet, Pico users can skip the desktop part and instead concentrate on finding online content. A common complaint with desktop search tools is that because they constantly update their information archive, they can take up valuable PC system resources.

Initially, Pico will be available as a free tool for Windows users only, but there are plans for it to be Mac-compatible shortly.

Unlike traditional search engines, which depend on the user entering keywords for items they’d like to locate, Pico operates more like the context-sensitive adverts embedded in Google’s Gmail, automatically retrieving news stories, Wikipedia entries, TV and video, blogs and podcasts related to the item on the web you’re currently viewing.

Blinkx founder Suranga Chandratillake says the Pico approach "reverses the process of search" and "simplifies it by bringing content to you". As well as identifying the main topic in, say, a news story, and serving up similar items, categorised by media type and accessible via icons at the top of the current web page, it will also go off and seek items related to any word or phrase you highlight within that story, with no need to enter it into a search box.

Clicking on a Blinkx icon automatically creates a Smart Folder where current and new content related to the topic in question is stored for easily retrieval. Both the Blinkx tool and Pico are also able to search through and organise email in the same manner and can search through anything that is text-based.

Such search and organisation tools are, says Chandratillake, "really about the new web". Only now, he says, are we "exposing all the bits of the web that are connected".

Continuing the new web theme, which is increasingly about users posting and sharing their own content, Blinkx is building on its existing Blinkx.tv video and TV archive with a beta of a personal TV service. Here, content that "has been explicitly uploaded to [Blinkx's] site" can be sought out via a search term, with results served up as a stream of spliced together video clips. This means you no longer have to click on and launch individual clips.

At present, content is primarily from users keen to give their own videos a wider audience via the Creative Commons Licence. It can additionally be downloaded to an iPod Video or other PMP (portable media player), with PSP support on its way.

Another plus of the personalised Blinkx.tv service is that thumbnails of each clip appear at the bottom of the screen so you can jump between them. Searches can be saved as personal TV channels.

Chandratillake foresees such delivery as a potential "break in the dam" for online video content. It chimes with the original promise of the internet, delivering content straight to the desktop with no need for a middleman. He believes that in two or three years' time, such tools as Blinkx's may well be embedded in IPTV boxes and used as a method whereby you "can jump to the bits of a programme or film you want".


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