- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2000

How hard would it be to find a particular word in a 65,000-page book? Visitors to Discovery.com (www.discovery.com) would face that dilemma if not for the availability of a powerful tool.F

With more than two million page views per day and queries ranging from information on pyramids to pachyderms, the Bethesda-based media group turned to Vienna's Excalibur Technologies Corporation (www.excalib.com) for help in developing its site's search needs.

"People come to us to find information and we need to be able deliver it to them," said Andrew Van Etten, Discovery.com manager of Web applications. "Due to its size, the site needed an engine with advanced search capabilities. We also needed an engine that would respond to operator error because no one knows how to spell Christopher Lowell."

Interior Designer Christopher Lowell requires a very specific key word search that only makes sense at the Discovery Web site. He is one of the cable channel's many on-air personalities, hosting a popular weekday show.

Excalibur promotes its product RetrievalWare as the "industry's first and most advanced knowledge-retrieval solution for indexing and searching a wide range of distributed information resources all from a common user interface." Or in plain English, a powerful spider that can quickly scurry out over the Internet or Intranet Web site to find information.

"Indexing and retrieval are our core competency," said Kamran Khan, senior vice president of sales and general manager for Excalibur. "We are able to help our clients not lose potential visitors who become frustrated with irrelevant responses while searching for information."

The company, in business since the early 1980s, has a long history of providing clients such as the World Bank and the federal government with the ability to quickly search through enormous volumes of information.

Becoming a provider of Internet solutions was a natural progression for the group, that has enjoyed a 44 percent growth with more than 200 employees, as its existing clients began developing their own Web sites.

Mr. Khan believes this growth can be attributed to not only the popularity of the World Wide Web but the need to find specific information quickly.

Excalibur's future plans are to move beyond just text indexing to include multimedia solutions.

Some of the technologies now available include Screening Room, an "end-to-end" management system that allows the search and retrieval of both analog and digital video.

With Screening Room users can capture video, add metadata and annotations, execute intelligent visual and textual queries, find individual frames of interest and preview rough cuts of video.

"It will become more and more important that we are able to handle the multimedia Web sites with accuracy and scalability," Mr. Khan said. "Our highlight right now is text because that is what we have been selling to our more than 400 core clients. But we are offering search and index solutions that work from the Intranet to the e-commerce space."

The RetrievalWare product provides a search solution that goes beyond the typical Boolean search and features the company's Semantic Network and Adaptive Pattern Recognition Processing (APROP) technologies working together to overcome the inaccuracy of the user's search.

This means that the search engine automatically recognizes the root level of the word, not missing responses because of irregular or variant spellings.

RetrievalWare can create select libraries of content for specific uses, such as travel tips, and results in pages that provide location-specific content for Discovery.com.

"I have found that nothing comes out of the box working exactly as you need it to," Discovery's Mr. Van Etten said. "But RetrievalWare has delivered the functionality that we needed to be able to customize into a tool that would work on our site."

• Have an interesting site? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Business Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail (joseph@twtmail.com).

Site of the week: E-RUG GALLERY.COM

Site address: www.eruggallery.com

Recommended user group: Interior designers and individuals looking to purchase floor coverings.

What's to like? E-Rug Gallery.com uses the Excalibur Technologies' search and index products to help its users select products.

The site offers an interesting and fact-filled marketplace that should be a first stop when gathering rug information and history. It is a topic-specific electronic commerce site that is easy to navigate.

When it comes time to find the perfect rug, the Visual Search tool provides a unique way for consumers to narrow down choices from dozens of patterns. Users simply choose the pattern, shape, size and dollar amount and then click on the search results for details on the rugs that match.

As an individual who hates waiting for pages to load, only to find that what I am looking for is not on that page, this type of site could turn me into an Internet shopper for clothing and other colorful purchases.

Don't miss: Having suffered the pains of rug shopping, the visual search engine makes this task a breeze.

Adding to the ease of finding the rug, once a selection is made, a "zoom" tool pops up allowing shoppers to peer closer at the rug to see patterns, color and quality. Click on to the Java Zoom, which uses Live Picture (www.livepicture.com) for an on-screen image of the rug that can be easily moved around to see every stitch, color and pattern nuance.

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