Search-Based Applications: What’s in it for e-biz?

By Morgan

For those of you who are unfamiliar with search-based applications, I thought it would be helpful to provide a concrete example, in this case, an online SBA and an iPhone application based on that SBA.

While enterprise SBAs are often used to provide database-style information access and reporting – without the usability and performance constraints of direct database access – online and mobile SBAs often ‘ mash-up’ unstructured and structured content to create a pertinent and engaging experience for consumers.

First, the online SBA. It is a restaurant directory proof-of-concept that mashes up source data including database content (restaurant listings in the directory database), Web content (photos, details like opening hours, prices, menus, payment options, etc.), and user-generated content (opinions, ratings, reviews, blogs, etc., also culled from the Web), with sentiment analysis applied on the aggregated content. It also incorporates geospatial data for mapping. The result is an ultra-rich directory that synthesizes a massive amount of information into a coherent, at-a-glance consumer dashboard.

And this dashboard evolves in real-time.


Based on this POC, we developed an iPhone SBA for Yellow Pages Group Canada called Urbanizer. Urbanizer leverages the same sources as Restminer (YPG Database + Web & UGC content + Sentiment Analysis + Mapping), with one significant addition: Social Networking. The result is the industry’s first Mood-Based Local Search application.Urbanizer

Urbanizer combines search, sentiment analysis and social networking to help consumers find the perfect local restaurant according to their mood (“Tonight, I’m in the mood for an authentic, cozy Italian restaurant.”).

CloudView semantic processors and sentiment analyzers dynamically map restaurants to the types of meals to which they are well-suited (e.g., “Romantic Dinner,” “Hipster Snack,” or “Business Lunch”) and to match the restaurant’s service, cuisine and ambiance to qualitative ratings like “homey,” “refined,” “casual,” “upscale,” etc.

A range of other quantitative and qualitative data is available to help users hone in on the perfect dining experience: type of cuisine, proximity, price, ratings, friends’ recommendations, review details… With a live connection to Facebook and other social websites, users can also instantly share the information they’ve found with friends, family and colleagues.

In addition this sharing of information within one’s own social network, Urbanizer simultaneously empowers users to build a knowledge base of benefit to the public at large. As each Urbanizer member interacts with the database and their own social network to refine their search and share their experiences, a “mood map” of an entire city is constructed for the benefit of all Urbanizer users.

This type of rich, emotive search grounded in social networking carries great potential for numerous sectors, including hospitality, travel, entertainment, classified, and personal and business services.

What do you think about this?



(Morgan Zimmerman is Exalead’s VP of Business Development.)

Pulse Check on Augmented Reality

By Kate

Reality realitycheckahead

This morning Mehdi invited me to attend CB Web Le Club’s “Augmented Reality” breakfast.  I was keen to attend because as you may have smelled Europe is leading the planet in AR technology and application advancements.  If you know me well, you know that I don’t use the term “leading” lightly. 

Thanks to progress made in the hardware industry, interactive media in all its forms, including AR, but also immersive virtuality, real-time 3D, etc, is slithering into your daily life perhaps without you noticing.  And when your shiny new 3D TV is happily installed chez toi, you’ll be getting even more of it. 

In fact, just like when you’re shopping for bio products at the grocery store, soon you’ll know if the products (not necessarily in the grocery store) you buy are linked to AR applications or not.  Yes, there’s talk of an AR label for packaging.  Total Immersion presented their proposition for this label, sharp looking indeed. 

Even Banking, categorically one of the most boring industries, has jumped on the AR wagon.  This morning BNP (a major French bank) tooted its SPOT application.  With your iPhone camera and SPOT you can scan the city for the nearest BNP bank, view its open-for-business hours, etc.  We’ve seen this type of thing with Layar for real estate.  Point your iPhone to a building to see if it contains an apartment for sale, and if so, what are the architectural and financial specs? 

Why will people adopt AR?  We assume because it will make our lives more fun and augment our experiences.  But I’d like to offer up a different perspective that was briefly mentioned this morning.  We all learn differently.  Some of us learn by seeing.  Some of us learn by hearing.  Some of us learn by doing.  What Augmented Reality could offer is learning by all three ways integrated. 

Do you buy this theory?  I’d love to know your thoughts . . .



Immersive 3D Reducing Burn Victims’ Pain

By Bernie


It’s extremely gratifying to work for a company that helps so many people do so much good. And what could be more important than relieving the pain of a child who has suffered serious burns?

The University of Washington’s Dr. Hunter Hoffman, a virtual reality researcher, and Dr. Dave Patterson, a pain and hypnosis expert, set just that challenge for themselves when they began to research how to reduce pain without drugs. They hypothesized that if patients could let their minds go somewhere else while their wounds were cleaned and dressed, the distraction would significantly reduce the pain.

They developed the first iteration of the environment they call SnowWorld, a glacial land populated by virtual snowmen, penguins and mastodons, with funding from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and the National Institutes of Health. The original SnowWorld proved traditional video game technology could help, but Drs. Hoffman and Patterson thought a more immersive experience could help more. They decided to redevelop SnowWorld as a 3D Virtual Reality (VR) environment.


For help, they turned to University of Washington colleagues Howard Rose and Ari Hollander, founders of Firsthand Technology. Firsthand is a “serious games company” focused on developing medical training applications and treatment applications for maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We rebuilt SnowWorld with 3DVIA Virtools from Dassault Systèmes to make it simpler to modify,” Hollander says. “The flexibility of 3DVIA Virtools allows SnowWorld’s creators to more easily test different experimental hypotheses and identify factors relevant to better pain control.”

The deeply immersive nature of SnowWorld built in 3DVIA Virtools improved the level of pain relief and made it easy for the University of Washington team to alter the scenario to test different hypotheses, Hoffman says.

“3DVIA Virtools is versatile enough to let us explore a variety of options without investing so much time and effort testing out an idea that we feel locked into keeping the change regardless of its usefulness,” Dr. Hoffman says. “Virtools has become an integral part of our research team’s success.”

Programming speed is another key advantage, allowing Firsthand’s clients to see their concepts evolve quickly. Realism, too, contributes to SnowWorld’s success.

“In the 3DVIA Virtools version of SnowWorld, the snowflakes are just incredible,” Dr. Hoffman says. “The magical 3D snowflakes help patients feel ‘there’ in SnowWorld, which leads to grater pain relief.”


Patients report that they perceive less pain when immersed in SnowWorld, allowing doctors to treat them with significantly lower levels of potentially addictive painkillers than previously possible. Best of all, MRI scans prove patients don’t just perceive less pain – in many cases, their brains actually experience 50 percent fewer pain messages than those same patients experience without SnowWorld.

It’s exciting to see the way doctors are using 3D immersive technologies such as 3DVIA Virtools to improve patient treatments. What other sorts of medical treatments can you imagine with the power of 3D?



Page 160 of 243« First...102030...158159160161162...170180190...Last »