Thursday, December 8, 2011

Technology & Tourism Thursday - Helioid Search Engine

Helioid is a new search engine that helps you narrow your search by dividing it by color codes.  This allows the users to narrow down a large search in a efficient manner.

Here is an example.  I first searched for the term 'Charleston.'  This search returned me items for both Charleston S.C. and Charleston W.V.  It provided the local newspapers up top.  If however, I was planning a trip, I could narrow my search easily using the color coded buttons along the side.

In this example, I clicked on the Charleston hotels button.  The CVB (Tourist information web site) then rose to the top along with several hotel options.  The buttons on the side then transformed to give me further options for narrowing my search.  In this instance, it gave me different locations types (i.e. downtown vs. airport).

I then narrowed further by clicking on the downtown button and was given a series of very specific hotel links.    the buttons along the side then transformed to give me options related to rates, reviews and online purchasing tools.

In total, the search engine needs some refinement but it is a good tool for those planning trips to areas where they may not be as familiar with the potential options.  In another search attempt, I examined Boise Tourism.  As I am not familiar with the location at all, this provided an excellent test of the search engine and its abilities to assist me with learning about and to book a trip to the destination.  This test worked well and I was able to comfortably navigate through the process.  The advantage of Heliod over Google is that you do not feel like you are constantly being marketed to.  Further, if you are not as familiar with the topic you are searching for, the hints are very helpful at narrowing down the topics to get to what you really want.

On the negative side, this search engine was poor in relation to searching for academic materials.  If they could add a subsystem like Google Scholar to it, then the real potential of this engine could be reached.  Often times students have a broad topic in mind when starting a research project.  This engine could be the perfect tool for helping them narrow these search parameters.  This could be a major area of potential for the company.

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