True Knowledge Launches Natural Language Search Engine

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Cambridge, UK-based True Knowledge released its natural language search engine into private beta yesterday (a story broken by TechCrunchUK).

Like the much-anticipated Powerset, the company aims to give appropriate answers to natural language queries, even if key query terms are not included in the data being indexed. Current search engines are unable to return appropriate results for these queries.

At first glance True Knowledge and Powerset are competitors – but in fact they really aren’t. Powerset is both indexing the web and working to convert natural language queries into database-understandable queries. True Knowledge is only tackling half the problem – the conversion of queries. They are not indexing the web.

Instead, True Knowledge is grabbing data from structured databases, like, for example, the CIA Factbook. In many ways, they are more comparable with Freebase, a startup focused on gathering all the structured data on the web.

The engine certainly looks like it will be useful, though. Results can be returned based on inference of the intended meaning. So a question about if someone is married or not can be answered even if there is no specific structured data about that question. See the demo video to get a better idea of what it is capable of:

http://blip.tv/scripts/flash/showplayer.swf?enablejs=true&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Ftrueknowledge%2Eblip%2Etv%2Frss&file=http%3A%2F%2Fblip%2Etv%2Frss%2Fflash%2F473501&showplayerpath=http%3A%2F%2Fblip%2Etv%2Fscripts%2Fflash%2Fshowplayer%2EswfYou can also see a number of screen shots with sample queries and results here.The company has raised “more than” £600,000 from Octopus Ventures. As an interesting aside, founder William Tunstall-Pedoe is good friends with Powerset founder Barney Pell. Both studied at Cambridge together, says Pell, who describes True Knowledge as “cool stuff.”Via Go2Web2.

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