LAS VEGAS, NEV. — Users who wish they could skip some steps when searching for desktop files or information on the Web, take heart — three exhibitors at Comdex Fall 2001 say they have solutions to make life a little easier.

Toronto native David Lee, CEO of Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif., said he’s developed a third-generation search engine companies can add to their Web sites to help users get the answers they want without having to dig too far.

According to Lee, iAnswerer uses a complex natural language analyzer, artificial intelligence data mining and inferencing technology. Users type their questions into a box that appears at the top right hand corner of the Web page, and iAnswerer returns answers, along with the sites which might contain more information.

“Yahoo is like first generation search engine because it can only understand words and phrases but not sentences,” said Lee. Ask Jeeves is a second generation search engine that can understand human natural language, he said — but for one question it will return 20 to 30 possibilities.

“We are third-generation because we will give correct answers right away. You don’t have to search for information you’re looking for by going into those sites listed by some search engines,” he said. “Instead of making it a multiple step approach to getting information, we reduce it to one step.”

Lee said iAnswerer is looking for business partners who would help the firm market the search engine.

Neutrino Technologies, a Fremont, Calif.-based developer of an intelligent software platform, says its first software product NeuDesk, currently in beta, will help reduce the number of multi-level menus, clicks and keystrokes needed to execute commands, find files and surf the Web.

“In this age now, we have so much data, pictures, songs and we don’t know where we keep our files — we think we do but we don’t,” said Jay Patel, Neutrino’s COO.

NeuDesk allows users to search music files, for example, by saying or typing in natural language the title or the artist, thereby avoiding browsing through files in folders, said Patel. “It’s actually moving away from creating folders because as time goes on you don’t remember where you put them. With our technology you don’t have to worry about where a file is.”

Niraj Desai, the firm’s vice-president of consumer marketing, said support for Windows XP makes voice-enablement possible, but Neutrino will be working with other alliance partners — possibly Nuance and IBM — who offer voice solutions.

“With speech recognition, there are many companies that are working in that area, trying to perfect translating a human voice into basically a sentence, trying to dictate,” said Desai. “That’s not what we’re doing. After we know what the user is saying, we want to know what they mean . . . what do they want the computer to do? Which application do they want to open up? What song, what image, what stock?”

Patel said the final version of the software will be available at the end of this month, adding that Neutrino is working on a “shrink wrap” strategy to get the software out into retail outlets. The firm is also working on a toolkit to enable the technology to work with other enterprise solutions using other speech recognition software on the front end.

Browse3D of Chantilly, Va., has developed software for graphically searching and viewing the Web.

“This was my own idea and it was born out of my own frustration when browsing the Web,” said the firm’s president and CEO David Shuping. Browsing involves clicking on a link, looking at one page at a time, and clicking the back button when you want to return to previous pages — “like taking two steps forward and one step back,” he said.

Shuping said he starting thinking about how he could use the power that’s available today — CPUs, bandwidth — to enhance the browsing experience and make it more graphical.

“The browser hasn’t changed in six years. . . . Everything else in the technology world has improved dramatically over last six years but the browser has stayed the same, basically.”

The result was the firm’s first product, the Browse3D Browser provides a way to find, organize, save and share Web-based content in 3D rooms. Users click back and forth in a three-page browser which allows them to view all the pages available from the links on the page they’re currently viewing. They can also look back to the pages they’ve already visited.

Comdex Fall 2001 continues through Friday.

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