Cuil disappoints – maybe HeyStaks is the answer

30 Jul 2008

If you are cooling your heels after taking the new search engine, Cuil, for a somewhat shaky test drive, then you may be wondering how exactly the world can improve on the Google search model. Maybe the answer is not to replace Google but to augment it.

This is the thinking behind HeyStaks, a web-browser engine plug-in developed by researchers at University College Dublin (UCD) that uses people power to improve your search experience.

You can sort through and share ‘staks’ of your search results with friends and colleagues using the HeyStaks plug-in (hence the name) – a social tool that stacks search information and thus helps you find a needle in … you’ve guessed it.

An example of how this might work, as given by the HeyStaks team, would be to create a common stack called ‘Holiday 2008’. Every time you carry out a Google search relevant to this, you can add it to the common stack.

How your friends benefit is that when they perform the same search for flights or hotels, your previous results will be specially highlighted, leading to shorter, easier, more relevant searches for all concerned.

This could also easily be used for collaborative projects among researchers and college students.

HeyStaks is a UCD spin-out company and one of the co-founders is Professor Barry Smyth,digital chair of computer science within the Department of Computer Science and Informatics at UCD. Through Eircom’s Web Innovation Fund, the spin-out was one of the four firms to receive its share of €100,000 in development money.

The idea behind this fund is not only to give a good technology concept the money to get off the ground but also to push it towards commercialisation and eventually to launch from the platform.

“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,” said Dr Maurice Coyle, one of the three co-founders of HeyStaks.

How soon will the public get to test this new plug-in?: “Right now we are moving to an invitation-based beta release of the service,” said HeyStaks co-founder, Peter Briggs.

“Interested parties will find more information on in the coming days and weeks and we are very interested in hearing from people who would like to participate in this beta release.”

By Marie Boran