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Search evolution: new ways to get better results

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We've dug out some internet search sites and services that will add voice recognition and results focused on meaning. But it may be that Microsoft's fresh-looking Tafiti engine makes the biggest splash of all.

If you're ready for a new take on web searching, a bunch of beta services are set to offer novel ways to search and to organise your results. Imagine stacking those listings on virtual shelves for easy retrieval the next time you need them, or flipping between results via 3D tabs.

And now you can even trawl for information by speaking your search terms to your mobile phone. The beta services that are offering these and other innovations promise to turn conventional web search on its ear.

Searching for meaning


Hakia, a beta search engine, claims to extract more meaning from phrases and questions than search engines that focus on keywords

Google's relevance rankings have served web searchers well, but search is more than a numbers game. Technology developed by Hakia attempts to extract meaning from phrases on the web and in search queries.

The service suggests that you look for information in phrases or questions, and those phrases are highlighted in the results to make them easier to browse. Hakia's SemanticRank algorithm is designed to consider the credibility of sources and to enable the engine to learn how to make better choices in the future.

But there are times when entering any text is inconvenient. If you're on the road and need to search via your mobile phone, you can speak your searches using Vlingo (but only if your carrier supports it).

Most phone-based voice-recognition systems accommodate a limited vocabulary, but Vlingo claims that its Hierarchical Language Models allow you to say anything and be understood. The system attempts to predict what a user is likely to say next based on the context of the previous words. Vlingo's technology also adapts to understand new words, and to improve accuracy by learning individual speech patterns as one uses the system.

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