Two New Visual Search Services

Dennis Faas's picture

When Google emerged on the web it quickly overwhelmed competitors due to a simple page layout and superior search abilities. Since that time, various companies have tried to unseat the popular search engine, but with very little luck. Now two different companies are trying one approach: visual search.

The first new service is called SpaceTime, a desktop application currently available only for PCs (though the company promises to deliver a Mac version shortly). SpaceTime is more 3-D browsing experience than search engine; however, its ability to search is what sets it apart from Firefox or other conventional browsers. SpaceTime is able to switch between Google and Yahoo searches, and, in addition, can do separate searches for YouTube videos, eBay auction pages, or Flickr photographs.

Results are displayed as separate windows stretching back in 3-D space, similar to Apple's Time Machine. While SpaceTime is an innovative way to browse and search it requires a large amount of processing power, and a computer with less than 1GB of RAM will find it difficult to use the program. (Source:

Unlike SpaceTime, SearchMe is a web-based search engine, with results displayed in Cover Flow-like format. A slider at the bottom of the screen allows users to sort through the results with relative ease. Users also have the option of splitting the screen with corresponding text results displayed below the visual output. (

The most intriguing part of SearchMe however, is its intuitive interface which quickly supplies categories to choose from as you type your query helping to narrow down your requests quickly. A search for 'MacBook' for example, gave me the ability to choose between 'hardware', 'software', 'business news', 'luggage & bags', 'blogs', or 'auctions'.

SearchMe is currently in beta and requires an invitation to try it out (there were about 900 invitations left at the time this article was written), while SpaceTime, also in Beta Mode, is available now.

Visual search is an interesting way to peruse the web. Others have tried this idea before, most notably with its snapshots previews, but no one has embraced the idea as a complete solution for web searches. Whether customers are willing to give up the familiar look of Google and Yahoo for SearchMe and SpaceTime remains to be seen. But if search services are going to evolve these two companies seem to be headed in the right direction.

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