EBays search engine mines the descriptions and categories that sellers attach to their wares. Vivisimo believes its search algorithm, which analyzes text in product descriptions and generates its own categories, produces more intuitive results.
For example, a query for "digital camera" on eBay yields a wide range of items, plus links to confine the search to the electronics, sports or consumer electronics category or a few subfields. The same search on Vivisimo clusters cameras by brand or functions.
Neither method is perfect. A Vivisimo search for digital cameras on eBay included a small "Star Wars" category. It turned out that someone selling action figures had written that the pictures of the toys were blurry because "I have a bad digital camera."
Still, Vivisimo offers a few other tricks in the eBay search function that it launched this week on Vivisimo.com. They include the ability for "advanced searches" that can distill products by several factors, such as price range, sellers location and currency accepted.
Pittsburgh-based Vivisimo has no official relationship with eBay Inc., and works through eBays "application program interface," which lets outsiders create programs that connect to eBay listings.