Google entrenched itself deeper in our lives in 2006, but the success of the world s most popular search engine is attracting early-stage competitors in the New Year. One of these competitors is Hakia www.hakia.coma>-, whose search engine I tested out recently. The Hakia premise, summed up in a company blog entry by software developer Chris Gates, is that We are just now entering the phase of search with engines that understand what you mean not just what or how you say it. Gates is referring to search engines with semantic context- over and above syntactic contextless keywords- capabilities. For example, Gates suggests typing in what drug treats headache into another search engine. I ran the search on Google and got the following hits: Lower Cervical Bupivacaine Injection Treats Headache in the ED IngentaConnect Dexamethasone/amitriptyline treats drug-induced ... Medications to Treat Epileptic Seizures New Drug Treats Premature Ejaculation - healthfinder Yahoo! Health News: Epilepsy drug treats sleep-related eating disorder Drug Treats Water Intoxication Faster, More Effectively HON - News : New Drug Treats Premature Ejaculation New Drug Treats Most Common Male Sexual Disorder Science Blog -- Triptans Safer Than Many Common Drugs Underused ... Dr. Koop - New Drug Treats Premature Ejaculation As you can see, it wasn t a helpful set of results. The tacit question behind my query what can I take for my headache?- went completely unanswered, as Google relied on the syntactic recurrence of keywords rather than deducing my semantic meaning. As a result, I didn t get a single relevant hit. I repeated the search on Hakia and, right at the top of the page, Hakia told me: The following should help: By reducing the amount of prostaglandin available for synthesis, paracetamol helps relieve headache pain by reducing the dilation of the blood vessels that cause the pain. There was a link to a specific page about headache pain, as well as to a Hakia gallery of prescription drugs. The hits that followed this helpful top-line explanation were much more relevant to the issue of headache pain than Google s hits. Hakia s hits told me more about aspirin, nurofen, barbiturates, and even techniques like sleep, darkness, or a quiet room. Here s another example. I typed in what defense is best into both Google and Hakia. If someone asked you this informal question in real life, 9 times out of 10 it would be related to sports of some kind. But Google picked up on keywords and frequency only, giving me many hits related to national, personal, and computer defense. In Hakia, the search immediately turned up many hits to football, soccer, and chess. Here, as in Gates suggested example, I deliberately gave the two search engines search terms whose semantic intent was not apparent from their syntactic expression, but only Hakia figured out what I really wanted to learn. As a caveat, I d like to note that these problems go away with more sophisticated search. For example, if you structure a better query what NFL defense is best-, Google will give you a much more relevant set of hits. But the bottom line is that excellent Googling skills are still limited to a small number of people. Hakia will be of great help to rest of us. These particular examples of the triumph of a semantic search technology over the irrelevance of syntactic search illustrates why companies like Hakia will garner more attention in 2007. Source: line56.coma>

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