The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Pivot: Web Data Visual Analysis

I have been a fan of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lecture series for some time, and have come across very insightful and cool ideas. Last week, I saw a good presentation by Gary Flake (a Technical Fellow at Microsoft), who presented Pivot, an experimental tool for visual analysis of web content.

The presentation was excellent, and the tool is available for downloaded. An Excel interface is available for experimentation. I can't help but imagine the business applications of this type of visualization, including:

  • Competitive analysis

  • Sales performance analysis

  • Customer demographics

  • Political and regulatory landscape

  • Product sales and characteristics

  • Blog search

  • Patent analysis

 I don't know if the tool is scriptable at this time, but that should also add another dimension for unattended analysis.

 What other business applications come to your mind for a tool like this?

Search Engine for TV Programs

at Fraunhofer
for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems have developed a
novel approach to searching video content using speech recognition. 

of converting speech to text and then searching indexed content based on the
text translations, they've developed a method to use the syllables that make up the
words to search on content that is also indexed by syllables that form words. 

Speech recognition
has the daunting task to translate a seemingly unlimited number of words and
dialects.  Using syllables the
researchers found they could represent virtually all words using about 10,000
syllables.  Essentially they
created a syllable thesaurus as well as the means to index the content based on
the syllable thesaurus. The process can also acquire new words independently
using this approach.

obvious application for which they have applied this is searching audio content
such as TV programs.  They've referred to this as Search
Engine for TV Programs

search solutions which provide similar capabilities include blinkx,
which uses a combination of phonetic and text transcript analysis to search
audio and video content, and RAMP
which also uses a variety of methods to index and search audio and video

the continued increase in compute horsepower and creative ways of analyzing
unstructured content such as audio and video, speech recognition is on the
verge of becoming a more popular way to interface with information systems.  At least one person has labeled
speech recognition as the "New
Touch" in Computing
.  I
haven't gone that far here having experimented with a number of speech
recognition tools that have not lived up to their promise - but I'm optimistic
it will get there.

Why are there so many new search engines?

Google has dominated the search space for a while but there are a number of "new" players that approach the problem from a different perspective.

Microsoft has a new search engine called Bing, which is supposed to be more semantics based. With features like:

-Best Match: All the relevant results are showed up with the most relevant link on the top and called out
-Instant Answers: One-click access to the information listed in the search results.
-Deep Links: Talks more about the resources of the particular site
-Bing Maps: These maps for Enterprise are actually Virtual Earth, Microsoft’s mapping platform
-Bing Travel Rate Key: comparison of the Hotel’s the location, price and amenities will be represented in color coded manner
-Video Search: where you can search for videos by length, screen size, resolution, and source

Wolfram Research has announced a tool called Wolfram|Alpha that will disrupt what people think about search. It computes the answer to your queries, deriving the results from what it finds instead of directing you to other sources of information. You can type in "Mars" and see a summary of mathematical characteristics.

I am sure there are other new ones out there that focus on a specific capability or function. It just makes me wonder why so many new ones in such a short period of time.


Tags: progmic
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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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