A Search Service that Can Peer into the Future

August 25, 2010 | Source: Technology Review

Yahoo’s Barcelona research lab has launched a prototype news search engine called Time Explorer that could evolve into an effective  forecasting tool.

The prototype of Time Explorer was built using a collection of 1.8 million articles released by the New York Times stretching from 1987 to 2007 to stimulate research into new ways of exploring news coverage. Time Explorer generates interactive timelines showing how the volume of articles for a particular search term changes over time. The most relevant articles appear on the timeline, showing when they were published. If you move the timeline into the future, articles appear positioned at any point in time the text might have referred to.

Time Explorer can spot both absolute references to future times, such as “November 2010,” and work forward from an article’s publication date to figure out relative timings, like “an election next month.”

The application will be eventually be a showcase for the functionality of the European Union’s LivingKnowledge project.

Here’s an example future search (click the + to enlarge) – Ed.