Will some semantic web mysteries soon be solved? There’s been some chatter in the last few weeks about how some semantic technologies acquired by some giants in the IT space will at last see the light of day in their respective platforms. At the same time, the publicity engine has been hard at work for an upcoming tablet that also promises some semantic goodness.
Let’s start with Google, which in the spring closed on its acquisition of ITA Software, a move that was expected to help it get semantics into travel booking thanks to ITA’s Matrix airfare search engine (see our story here). Earlier this month the rumors started circulating with TechCrunch that Google would launch an ITA integrated-flight search product within a few weeks that could include features such as map-based search and information on flights, times and prices based on general search terms, such as ski trip, and user IP addresses that could bring up options from Colorado or Utah, for instance. It’s a few weeks later, and we’re still waiting.
But so, too, is travel site Kayak, when it comes to its IPO. It has an existing agreement with ITA software that is not supposed to expire until 2013, and whose contract renewal Google is supposed to honor under its agreement with the Department of Justice to acquire ITA. (The expected map-based search in the upcoming Google travel product has been likened to Kayak’s Explore feature.) But apparently some questions have arisen over that, with Kayak noting in its recent financial filing that it may be unable to operate its business effectively should Google or ITA limit its access to the software or improvements to it.
Next up: Apple’s acquisition of Siri and its intelligent digital assistant last year (which we reported here) may factor into the vendor’s fall iOS 5 release. A report on 9to5Mac late last week said that the Siri technology may yield an operating system-integrated feature called Assistant that will use information from a user’s iPhone – location, contacts, even music metadata – to service requests for restaurants, movies and so on. In combination with Apple’s partnership with Nuance on the speech-to-text front, it could accommodate voice inputs, too, in natural language.
And as Apple polishes up those capabilities, another vendor is thinking about one-upping the master at the tablet game, with a dose of semantics for good measure. TabCo, which is conducting a web guerilla marketing campaign for its as yet-under-wraps tablet, is talking about its predictive and semantic web inspired UI as a differentiating feature:
The launch date of the device is set for August 15. The vendor is building momentum by releasing bits and pieces of information about the system, without being particularly specific in most respects.
We do know, though, as of a post on its blog this week answering a selection of user questions, that it will have Bluetooth, office apps, and a unique physical design — which “itself isn’t a circle, but much of the user interface is spherically inspired.”
Spherical semantics — what’s not to like about that?