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We all use Google to search the web. Life-changing though it has been, a raft of new-style search engines is now emerging. One direction was suggested when Google recently achieved a patent for a voice-activated search engine - no relation to the Scottish talking search engine Speegle.

Cast around and think of Apple's Spotlight, which made it into OS X 10.4, Microsoft's Live Search, which may be featured in the forthcoming Vista, the free downloadable Blinkx and Linux's Beagle.

And there is Frode Hegland of UC's interaction centre and his Liquid Information, which can be downloaded at www.hyperwords. net.

What this and most of the aforesaid search engines do is to make every word in a document a hyperword that can also pull up background context. Discussed for decades, the idea has been realised by fast computers.

Oh, and there is a bunch of researchers working on image search engines that are based on you sketching what you want to find. Try googling 'webcrawling using sketches'.

Or, look up 'retrievr' and check out Princeton's 3D model search at http: //shape.

cs. princeton. edu/ search. html. Fun. You just do a rough sketch and up it comes. Possibly. Soon.

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