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How Google Plans to Find the ­ngoogleable

Google data center

Racks of networking equipment connect servers inside a Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Credit: Technology Review

Google's stated mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible. However, to achieve this goal the company needs to utilize experience sampling, says Google lead user experience designer Jon Wiley. "Doing that on a mobile device is a relatively new technology, and it's getting us better information that we really haven't had in the past," Wiley says.

Contextual information obtained from mobile devices can provide clues about users and their situation, which enables Google to guess what users want, Wiley says. "We've often said the perfect search engine will provide you with exactly what you need to know at exactly the right moment, potentially without you having to ask for it," he says. For example, Google Now combines location data with real-time feeds from U.S. public transit authorities and weather services, which lets users walk up to a bus stop and pull out their phone to find arrival times already supplied.

University of Texas at Austin researcher Jonas Michel says Google's efforts could lead to a new type of search. "In the future you might want to search very new information from the physical environment," Michel says. "Your information needs are very localized to that place and event and moment."

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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