Ciuvo adds a dash of real-time info to make online shopping more efficient

Shopping online has become standard to most people on the web. While browsing through the thousands of available e-commerce sites can be a tedious and time consuming task, meta shopping sites aim to take the hassle out of a potentially very long search for the best, cheapest and most adequate product out there.

Imagine you could access all of a product’s distributed and decentralized information on the web right when looking at it on Amazon or any other shopping site. That’s where Ciuvo comes in. The Austrian company has developed a nifty add-on for any browser out there (in Beta it’s only available for Chrome and Firefox), that lets you pull in product-related information in real time and smoothly on the top of the site that you are shopping at.

The plug-in enables you to find alternative products, the best price available and it also pulls in product reviews from various sites. This adds an interesting aspect to online shopping since it doesn’t take the user away from the site they are currently at, yet displays all relevant information.

The project initially came out of a hackathon at M&A and Incubator TheMerger, where the development was then continued by Martin Brunthaler, a former Technology VP at Verisign. It has now launched in closed beta and Brunthaler tells me that they plan to publicly launch in early 2011. He also says that the “context analysis engine that powers Ciuvo will be available via an API to drive the development of third-party products such as widgets”.

Technologically this sounds a bit like Seedcamp Winner Zemanta. However, from the business model side (the plug-in is free), it will be interesting to see if Ciuvo can innovate in terms of monetization, moving beyond just affiliate links.