Blinkx revamps search application

Search engine operator Blinkx has revamped its downloadable search application, increasing its Web search reach.

Blinkx has revamped its desktop and Web search application, giving it a new name and adding new features to it, the San Francisco provider of search engine services plans to announce on Tuesday.

The free downloadable application, which previously carried the company's name, is now called Pico. Like its predecessor, Pico "reads" whatever a user has on the screen at any given moment. Pico then compiles on-the-fly lists of Web pages that are relevant to the on-screen text, which can be from a Web browser window, a word processing document or an e-mail message.

A big difference is that the original Blinkx application was also a desktop search tool, able to index files and documents on users' hard drives. Pico by default lacks this desktop search functionality, although it can be added as a free option.

The reason for this is that desktop search applications have become commodity tools and are no longer the novelty they were two or three years ago, said Suranga Chandratillake, Blinkx's co-founder and chief technology officer.

After Blinkx introduced its original application in July 2004, all major search engine operators, including Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, Microsoft and America Online, either launched their own desktop search tools or partnered with a desktop search vendor to provide one.

Thus, with Pico, Blinkx is stressing and extending the application's Web search capabilities and de-emphasizing its desktop search functionality. Blinkx considers the application's core and most valuable feature is its ability to analyze on-screen text and generate queries on the fly and on the background, and that feature is intact with the new capabilities.

Like the original Blinkx application, Pico works unobtrusively in the background, analyzing on-screen text and running queries dynamically. Only when a user clicks on the small icons that Pico places at the top of the screen will the user see search results.

Some of the icons, or channels as Blinkx calls them, already existed in the original application, including general Web sites, news sources, multimedia files, blogs and products. Pico adds some new ones, such as a Wikipedia channel and a "people" channel, which includes indexed profiles from online community MySpace.com.

Pico, which is 1MB in size, will be available for download at some point on Tuesday at http://www.blinkx.com. Downloading Pico automatically uninstalls the original Blinkx application.

Blinkx also runs a Web-based multimedia search engine at http://www.blinkx.tv.

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