Jyve has launched a search engine that hopes to take on Google by linking users directly with people who can answer their questions.
San Francisco-based Jyve, a maker of plug-ins for the Skype peer-to-peer VoIP service, describes the site as an "ask engine", where user searches provide a live chat, instant message or phone call from a person with expertise in the search topic. Users can get how-to advice and tips on topics as varied as learning a language, buying a computer, mountain biking or cooking, the company said.
When a user types in a question, notices are sent to the desktops of logged-in members who have identified the topic as one in which they are knowledgeable. Members then can chat live on the site or have one-on-one conversations using IM or phone calls. Searchers can evaluate the profile of the person responding before interacting privately.
"Jyve literally brings the knowledge stored in people's minds worldwide online," said Charles Carleton, co-founder of Jyve. "We're seeing all sorts of specialised search engines being introduced, but real people still know lots of things that aren't easily found on the web."
The site lets users rate the answers they receive, and members can set up arrangements where they are paid for professional services, using Jyve's online metering system, the company said. Jyve is free until members make money; after that, the company charges a 10 percent commission for each transaction.
The site also allows manufacturers to refer their customers to Jyve for live help with consumer products and services.