Google’s Knowledge Graph Takes Search Closer to Star Trek


Google seems to be on fire these days.

First they teased us with a video for augmented reality eyeglasses, a prototype that produces web-enhanced Heads Up Displays for the people who wear them. Designed to interact with the social media used today, these sleek, uber-glasses are a geek’s dream.

Then, via another folksy and understated video, Google let us know that they have been quietly beta-testing self-driving cars. Or rather, technology (radar, AI, satellite) that can transform a regular vehicle into a driver’s personal chauffeur. The product should be available to consumers in 3 to 5 years, says Google.

Now the company’s going back to its roots, Search, and introducing something called the Knowledge Graph. Google wants to enhance the search experience by helping people learn more about their query in a sidebar that will provide relevant, related information.

Here’s how Google’s official blog puts it:

“The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.”

Google says the new Search feature–one of its most significant modifications in memory–improves its service in 3 ways.

1. Find the right thing. Google points out that language can be ambiguous and gives the example of Taj Mahal. For all Google knows, users can be searching for the iconic monument, the musician, the casino, or a restaurant. The Knowledge Graph will provide links on the first page of search results so users can delve more deeply into the Taj Mahal they’re actually interested in.

2. Get the best summary. Google plans to present a summary of the relevant facts pertaining to your search in the sidebar, so you’ll be able to do a quick ‘six-degrees of separation’ assessment of the relevant people, places and events associated with your query.

Google uses the example of Marie Curie to explain: “The Knowledge Graph also helps us understand the relationships between things. Marie Curie is a person in the Knowledge Graph, and she had two children, one of whom also won a Nobel Prize, as well as a husband, Pierre Curie, who claimed a third Nobel Prize for the family. All of these are linked in our graph. It’s not just a catalog of objects; it also models all these inter-relationships. It’s the intelligence between these different entities that’s the key.”

3. Go deeper and broader. The Knowledge Graph sidebar is almost like a mini Wikipedia/ IMDB entry for your queries. Google says its new feature will surprise users with interesting discoveries. In the case of Matt Groening, the inspiration for what he called of some of his most famous Simpsons characters is revealed when you find out the first names of his immediate family members.

Google will be rolling out the new feature for mobile devices as well. It should be interesting to watch how other search engines react to the Knowledge Graph and what they’ll do to try and keep up with the precocious innovators at Google.

Talk To Us! Which new feature would you like to see on your favorite search engines?

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