IBM launches ‘smart’ email search tool

21 Dec 2007

IBM has released a free semantic search tool for email. The ‘smart’ software extrapolates what users are trying to find from their search queries.

Made in IBM’s Research Labs, the software is powered by advanced algorithms that can interpret incomplete queries and find information such as phone numbers, people, meetings, presentations, documents and images.

It helps users quickly search and find information, for example a person’s phone number, even if the email database does not have the words ‘phone’ and ‘number’ in the text. It also allows users to create, save and share personalised searches for future use.

Common search concepts, such as dates, times and phone numbers, are built into the software; additional search parameters, such as meeting requests or specific locations, can be defined and used on the fly without any programming expertise.

Called IBM OmniFind Personal Email Search (IOPES), the tool is available for free on IBM alphaWorks ( It is available for Lotus Notes mail and Microsoft Outlook.

“With gigabytes of email storage readily available to nearly everyone, email has evolved from a simple communication tool into a personal database where we retain vast amounts of valuable information,” said Douglas Wilson, chief technology officer, Lotus.

“We continue to deliver better tools to speed and improve personal mailbox search and OmniFind Personal Email Search illustrates how IBM’s advanced technology delivers the ability to quickly and easily access the precise information we need, exactly when we need it.”

The software uses the Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA), an open source software framework that helps organisations build new analysis technologies to realise more value from their unstructured information by discovering relationships, identifying patterns and predicting outcomes. Originally developed by IBM, UIMA is now an open source project at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

By Niall Byrne