Google is to launch a major redesign of how it displays search results to include a panel it calls the Knowledge Graph, which the firm claims will help users discover new information more easily and quickly.
The Knowledge Graph is Google's attempt to improve the sophistication of its engines by moving away from searching purely for strings of characters to understanding that users may be looking for information on tangible things, such as people or buildings or art movements.
Google's Knowledge Graph “will enable us to make search more intelligent, moving us closer to the 'Star Trek computer' that I've always dreamt of building,” said Amit Singhal, senior vice president of engineering at Google.
“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's Knowledge Graph will be presented in a panel on the right-hand side of the search results page. This will enable users to refine their searches and introduce them to relevant content around their area of interest.
For example, a user searching on the term “Darwin” could quickly distinguish between the eminent biologist and the Australian city, before being presented with more thought-provoking content: be that links to his most important work, or the city's best restaurants.
The results will also include graphical elements, such as maps, portraits or pictures of related results.
The Knowledge Graph currently contains more than 500 million objects, along with 3.5 billion facts about the relationships between the objects. It is based on both public sources of data from Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook, along with data Google has gleaned from wider sources.
The service is now being rolled out to users in the US, and is expected to be rolled out across the globe at some unspecified point in the future.
The update comes just days after Microsoft unveiled a major update for its own search engine, Bing, adding social feeds to its results.
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