Visual Search Engines

By Oleg

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

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

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

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

Oskope is visual search engine for Web. You can visualize results in different styles like: grid, stack, pile, graph and list.

Quintura

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?

Best,

Oleg

Green design gets a little easier

By Matthew

I remember Kermit the Frog once sang “it’s not easy being green.” I think a lot of designers would agree. Many would like to be more environmentally conscious, but they’re still under pressure to reduce the cost of materials and speed up design times. The bottom line usually wins over being eco-friendly.

At SolidWorks World 2009, we announced a new product we’ve been working on that was going by the code name “Sage.” It’s a tool that integrates seamlessly into SolidWorks that allows designers to see just how eco-friendly the products they’re designing are.

We’re happy to announce that this new product, officially named SolidWorks Sustainability, is now available in beta form from the SolidWorks Labs website. This is the SustainabilityXpress version that will be included with every version of SolidWorks starting with the release of SolidWorks 2010. SolidWorks Sustainability was designed in collaboration with PE International, and leverages their GaBi database

SolidWorks Sustainability allows the designer to submit data about materials, place of manufacture, and a few other variables to set a baseline for environmental impact. You can then change the materials, country, and so on to see how it changes the impact. Specifically, Sustainability measures:

  • Carbon footprint
  • Total energy consumed during manufacture
  • Effect on air quality, specifically regarding acid rain
  • Effect on water quality, specifically regarding algae blooms in coastal waters

The data updates automatically as you change your designs. The “Find Similar” tool even lets you search the built-in material database for close alternatives to the material you have specified, so you don’t have to waste time scrolling through menus. Even if you’re not interested in sustainable design, this could come in handy. And when you’re done, the system generates a report that you can print out, or send to colleagues.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit the SolidWorks Labs site to download the beta version. And finally, here’s a quick video I shot with SolidWorks’ Director of Product Innovation Rick Chin, showing off the program. Enjoy!

Listening for the Bounce in the High-Tech/Semi Market

By Rick
Photo by MichaelMaggs Edit by Richard Bartz

Photo by MichaelMaggs Edit by Richard Bartz

As goes semiconductor, so goes high-tech. That is a common thought within the high-tech community. With the economic troubles over the past year-plus, one of the KPI’s that analysts look at is the health of the consumer electronics and compute markets. Much of the technical innovation behind getting those new, cool, fast, cheap features out there lives within the computer chips driving those products. And it’s no secret that semiconductor companies and employees have been hit hard.

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Many analysts are looking to the beginning of a recovery for 2H09. Others are saying that it’s just wishful thinking and that we are still a ways out on real recovery. In either case, there are two interesting industry events in July that may help give us some more information on where things are going. The first is SEMICON WEST and the other is the Design Automation Conference (DAC). Both are in San Francisco during July.

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SEMICON WEST will cover a broad range of topics, primarily around various types of electronic products and the processes used to build and test those products. It will talk about technology and also give significant coverage to industrial equipment. I can’t attend this year, but I’ll be very interested in reading what industry analysts think. Capital equipment spending is way down this year within semiconductor and much of the manufacturing, assembly and test goes on in Asia. But this event may still be a good indicator of where the bounce may be in those areas. The show will also talk about hot technologies, such as MEMS and Photovoltaics. Both of those technologies have been gaining traction in mainstream markets.

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DAC is a show primarily focused on the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software community. This is the software used to design and simulate the computer chips that will be used in high-tech electronic products. This is the area that is right at the front of the design chain and may be seen as a key indicator on the health of the market. When people buy new design tools and technologies, see key partnerships in the area and hear other big announcements from industry leaders you may be able to draw some conclusions on where IC design activity is going. IC “design starts” drive the products that eventually make it to market. I’ll be there along with a number of our Dassault Systèmes colleagues from the high-tech industry. We’ll be primarily showing the ENOVIA PLM and ENOVIA Synchronicity products that have a strong base in the semiconductor design world. But we’ll also be talking with our partners and listening to other vendors to see what’s seen as important to them.

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I’ll be sure to send in some thoughts and observations from the show. Let me know if you hear of anything that we should be looking for at DAC.

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Best,

Rick



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Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.