Startup Opens Visual Search to the Web

Groxis introduces a free, Web-based version of its desktop tool for categorizing plain search results into visual maps of related topics.

A search startup known for replacing lists of search results with visual maps has released a free Web version of its tool.

Groxis Inc. on Monday launched, an online version of its desktop software that organizes search results into related groupings that appear as circles within circles., so far, focuses on Web search and returns results from Yahoo Inc.s search index. San Francisco-based Groxis also has partnered with Yahoo to embed paid search listings within results and to receive a share of revenue from clicks on the sponsored links.

But Groxis has bigger plans for its Web-based offering. The company plans to eventually include results from other search engines and other data sources into, a spokesman said.

"Visual search has been on the horizon for quite some time," said R.J. Pittman, CEO and founder of Groxis, in a statement. "The new site will raise awareness of visual search in the marketplace as we roll out a new suite of products in the next year."

For the past two years, Groxis has offered its search visualization tool through a desktop client called Grokker. The $49 client software, available for Windows and Mac OS X, already supported searching across multiple engines.

Grokker has drawn attention from schools and universities, as well as some enterprises, as a way to use search to research topics and subjects with a wider view rather than simply to find a specific link.

Groxis said the Grokker software has been downloaded more than a million times, and that its customers include Stanford University.

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Along with reorganizing search results into a visual map, the free service includes a feature called GrokMail for sharing a search-result map with other people through e-mail.

The search-based ads from Yahoo are served as users refine their searches into specific categories in the visual map, an approach that Groxis said helps target sponsored links more directly to users search activity.

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