German high-tech heavyweights SAP and Siemens are among the companies that hope to benefit from a government-funded program to develop new semantic Web technologies.
Both companies are in line for German government grants that the European Union approved last week for the Theseus program. SAP is the lead partner in a project that aims to develop semantic tools for enabling Web services based on SOA (services-oriented architecture) systems, while Siemens heads a team focused on semantic search technology for medical images, Theseus spokesman Thomas Huber said Wednesday.
"The companies view Theseus as a collaborative effort in the area of basic research, and a way to develop and bring new applications faster to the market," Huber said.
The SAP-led Texo project will work on semantic tools that allow software components in all types of businesses to communicate with each other and thus allow for new services based on SOA technology, said SAP spokeswoman Angelika Pfahler.
A new semantic Web-enabled service, for instance, could allow all home utilities, such as gas, water, electricity and communications, provided by different suppliers, to be monitored, altered or substituted electronically by the owner on the home PC.
"The ability to allow different systems to connect and communicate with each will enable many new business models," Pfahler said.
Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence are among the 11 partners participating in the Texo project.
Another Theseus project announced Wednesday is Medico, which is headed by Siemens. The project is focused on developing semantic search technology for medical images.
Despite advances, current medical image databases, such as the Picture Archiving and Communications System and the Radiology Information System, are still indexed by keywords assigned by humans and not by the image content.
The Medico team plan to study new intelligent image search engines that will, among other things, link images to a variety of semantic aspects, such as anatomical relationships between organs, genome data and disease models.
Theseus joins a growing worldwide effort to develop new semantic Web technologies, also called Web 3.0, to help consumers and businesses make better use of the countless words, images and sounds available on the Internet.
"The focus of the project is more about intelligence than it is about search," said Huber. "It's about preparing, finding and using multimedia data in an intelligent way."
Earlier this year, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology agreed to contribute US$124 million in funding for the five-year program, with an additional US$124 million to come from high-tech companies and research institutions.
Last week, the European Union approved the German government's funding grant, agreeing to a cap of $US160 million for the duration of the project.
Theseus was created at the end of last year after the German government decided to distance itself from a politically inspired partnership with the French government to develop advanced multimedia search technologies. France has since taken control of the Quaero project, which continues to have a focus on search technology.
"Search is a part Theseus but only a part," Huber said. "Our key focus in on semantic Web technologies. The aim of our basic research is to pave the way to new applications and services."
Theseus is made up of a consortium of 30 companies, universities and research institutions, including nine member institutes of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.