May 9, 2012

Watch Out Wolfram Alpha, Google Is Diving Into Big Data

We've been expecting Google to foray into "semantic" search for a little while. They've got a LARGE database of information with an unimaginable amount of facts. However, something so big is hard to organize, which is why Google invested in Wikidata. Meanwhile, they've not been sitting on their hands.

Engadget has received a screenshot, courtesy of their reader Joseph, which shows a Google Search results page that features a little more than just the typical links, pictures, videos, and news articles. There is a notable addition on the right-hand side that provides straight facts about your search.

In this case, searching for Howard Carter brought up the nifty little box displaying the dude's photo, a brief bio, and a list of facts such as date of birth, cause of death, parents' names, and even place of burial. Typing the same name into Wolfram Alpha returns much of the same information. The difference is, that's all WA gives you. No image results, news articles, and other organic links that offer more details.

This could deal a serious blow to WA. Sometimes you just want a tool that does one thing well. But many searchers have never heard of Wolfram Alpha. With time, they could have discovered it. But if Google rolls out semantic search soon, these users will never see the need to use two separate search engines if they can get it all in one place.

Apple's Siri is seen as a competitor to Google search. If you want to know what time the Sun will set tonight, you don't have to open up your browser and do a web search. Just hold down the Home button on your iPhone and ask Siri. She answers using Wolfram Alpha. Once Google beefs up their own structured data offerings, they can integrate this technology into Android phones and tablets and be able to offer the same simple answers as Siri.