Fujitsu has released a free application plug-in, named Xurch, designed to help users rapidly refine their Web searches. The program leverages both proprietary algorithms developed at Fujitsu Labs of America and the Yahoo Search BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) open search platform.
With the plug-in installed, typing a term into a Website's search bar will generate a window of suggested words for users to refine their searches. In addition to search-engine sites such as Google, the plug-in can also be utilized with news and shopping sites such as CNN.com.
Once the user clicks on a term in the plug-in's suggested-terms window, the search is run again, and then another window is generated with new suggestions for further search refinement.
For example, if the user searches on Google or Bing for "planting bulbs," Xurch will offer a list of suggestions ranging from "blooms" to "containers" and "how to." If the user follows those suggestions and clicks on "containers," more granular suggestions could include "clay pots," "plastic planters" and the like.
Xurch supports Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8, as well as Firefox running on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The list of sites currently supported by the plug-in can be found here.
Yahoo BOSS allows developers to utilize an open-search Web services platform to design their own search products. Over the course of 2009, Yahoo has integrated new features into the application, including new sorting functionality, integration with Delicious content, and the ability to filter specific language results.
Yahoo has been making its services more transparent to developers, including opening access to the structured data pulled by Yahoo SearchMonkey from Websites via Yahoo Web Crawler.
Like Yahoo, Fujitsu has been prepping for a high-profile summer, with plans to roll out a $449 mini-notebook, or "netbook," aimed at the education market. Netbooks represent one bright spot of growth in a global PC market otherwise devastated by the recession, and other companies - including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus, Acer, Toshiba and Lenovo - have also been crowding into the space.