Shared search

A new approach to internet searching helps people to share their search experiences with friends and colleagues.

A new approach to internet searching that helps people to share their search experiences with friends and colleagues has been developed by researchers at University College Dublin (UCD).

HeyStaks, a new web browser plug-in, works with Google and provides users with the ability to create so-called ‘search staks’ as a way of organising and sharing their searches.

For example, using the new technology a group of friends planning a holiday abroad might create and share a ‘Holiday 2008’ search stak.

As each person searches for travel, accommodation and entertainment options, their search selections will be automatically shared with the other group members during future searches as specially highlighted search results. In this way the group members benefit from each others’ searches as they plan for the perfect holiday.

Likewise, a group of students collaborating on a project might create a search stak to capture their individual searches and share what they have found with the group, leading to more productive research.

The patent-pending HeyStaks, developed by a team of researchers led by Prof Barry Smyth, is being commercialised through NovaUCD.

Smyth, from the UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics and director of CLARITY, a €16m (£12.6m) Science Foundation Ireland research centre combining researchers from UCD, Dublin City University, and the Tyndal National Institute, said: ‘Seeing research graduate from the laboratory to the marketplace is always a big step, but a very exciting one.’

HeyStaks is one of four new initiatives to share the Eircom €100,000 (approximately £78,800) Web Innovation Fund. With the award, each company enters into an agreement with Eircom to develop their concepts through to production and, if appropriate, initial launch on the eircom.net platform.

The award winners also receive business development training and advice from Enterprise Ireland, as well as additional six-month post-launch funding and assistance with marketing and advertising.

Dr Maurice Coyle, one of the co-founders of HeyStaks and a recent UCD graduate, said: ‘We are very excited about the potential of HeyStaks. It is a unique take on web search that we believe will greatly improve how people mine for information online.’

Peter Briggs, HeyStaks co-founder, who has recently completed his PhD under the supervision of Smyth, added: ‘Right now we are moving to an invitation-based beta release of the service. Interested parties will find more information on HeyStaks.com in the coming days and weeks and we are very interested in hearing from people who would like to participate in this beta release.’

Prof Barry Smyth (centre) and Peter Briggs and Dr Maurice Coyle, co-founders of HayStaks