I am always looking for innovative ways to explore information – product models, engineering information, visualization etc. If a picture is worth a thousand words, visualizing your search results can significantly improve your ability to find relevant information. One of the challenges in today’s information universe is to find relevant results. Instead of a long list of titles, URLs, Part and Document Numbers, visual search engines deliver rich results presentations, often visually connected to related search terms.
I’ve been looking around for some examples of visual search engines and I’d like to share these results with you. Even if most of the examples are not connected to what we expect to see in our PDM and PLM systems, I hope they will give you some ideas about how we can potentially improve our ability to search for data.
I conducted my own research and tried to use some of these visual search engines. Most of them explore web information, Wikipedia, Amazon books and some other information on the Web. My test case was to search for Product Lifecycle Management and see if I can better find results by using these engines. So, below you can see the results and short explanations related to visual search engines I tested.
KartOO is a Web-based visual search engine that can search the Web, images, videos and Wikipedia entries. Using Google and Yahoo! search engines, KartOO allows you to create a visual map where related results are linked between them.
Touch Graph Google Browser is a visual search engine that displays the connections between websites using Google technology and visualizing the results in an interactive and customizable map. You can arrange and filter results. On the picture below you can see “Product Lifecycle Management” result filtered for “Daily PLM Think Tank”
Grokker is Web search engine. Your results are displayed both in a standard outline and in an interactive dynamic map. Results can be sorted by date, source, domain and refined selecting (or excluding) specific related keywords. A Grokker enterprise version also exists.
Oskope is visual search engine for Web. You can visualize results in different styles like: grid, stack, pile, graph and list.
Quintura is Web search engine. Quintura allows you to present results in a customizable tag cloud, and a classic organic outline.
What is my conclusion?
I think Visual Search Engines provide a quite interesting concept to search for precise information. Sometimes you can see results, slices and dices you cannot see any other way. I’d be very interested in knowing what you think about visual search engine capabilities. Maybe you can share your experience in similar domains too?