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Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Quaero: Europe's Ambitious Answer to Google


"Quaero" means "to search" in Latin and although it is unlikely to flash across the continent's computer screens anytime soon, European tech giants are working on what they hope will be the world's most advanced multimedia search engine.

The Quaero project was announced last summer by the French president Chirac. The French news agency AFP recently published an article on the progress of the European search engine. AFP has been talking to Jean-Luc Mollet at Thompson, a project leader of the Quaero project. A presentation of Quaero will be held at the Agance de l'innovation industrielle (AII) in January.

Quaero is not a text-based search engine but is mainly meant for multimedia search. The search engine utilizes techniques for recognizing, transcribing, indexing, and automatic translation of audiovisual documents ant it will operate in several languages. There is also mention of automatic recognition and indexing of images.

Recognition of video usually means automatic voice recognition and search in the recognized text, like in the podcast and video search engine Podscope. What they mean by automatic recognition of images, however, will be very interesting to find out. Will Quaero to some extent be able to recognize the contents of an image? Any way it seems that Quaero has more advanced technology in this area than e.g. Yahoo! or Google.

Several companies are involved in the Quaero project along with Thompson. AFP?s article mentions Deutsche Telecom, France Telecom, and the search engine Exalead. This is very promising ? Exalead has an interface that makes Google look out of date.

AFP also mentions some French and German research institutes: Inria (Institut national de la recherche en informatique et en automatique), IMSI-CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), RWTH-Aachen och Universitetet i Karlsruhe. In addition there are content providers like INA (Institut National de l?Audiovisuel) and Studio Hamburg. There are ongoing negotiations with other partners.

Quareo means search in Latin and it will be exciting to do just that when Quero is launched. This will hopefully happen in spring. For additional information visit http://www.thomson.net/EN/Home/Quaero/Homepage.htm.


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