Contextual content and advertising provider Proximic released an iPhone app, as the first step into a much broader foray into consumer-facing mobile search. The company’s underlying technology is called “pattern proximity matching,” which seeks to better understand pages and context through numerous points of relevance.
Company CEO Philipp Pieper says that it can be used to match ads with content (or content with other content) but that it also offers a superior relevance algorithm for consumer search. However the new iPhone App “Proximic Agents” isn’t yet a full-blown search engine; it’s a more intelligent news reader — for now.
Here’s how the company describes the new iPhone app:
The Agents app is an intelligent news service for better daily productivity. Proximic will scour millions of RSS feeds to find relevant content. Agents then match your interests and deliver fresh information directly on your iPhone.
Users set up queries or search terms (“agents”), very much like current news alerts. Wikipedia and news feeds are indexed and dynamically presented to end users who can save or share queries/results. Results may be sorted by relevance or date. But in the near term location awareness will be incorporated as another layer of relevance and factor into how results are defined and presented as well.
Search queries may be stored and retrieved under the “agents” button (upper left of the screen). The interesting thing is that the app doesn’t call itself a search engine but that’s largely how it presents itself to iPhone users. Over time it will become more like a search engine, with more data sources and more use cases. Users who set it up as a news reader will today have a better experience than those seeking to use it as they would a mobile search engine.
Proximic’s Pieper stressed that the technology was “language independent” and the company is making a big push into China where manually entering queries into a mobile phone is impossibly challenging.
Beyond the iPhone the company will be expanding onto other smartphone platforms and incorporating the camera as an input mechanism for things like product search. Android app ShopSavvy incorporates conventional barcode scanning through the camera today. There are also mobile applications that read QR codes and provide a broad range of content and information about places, objects and products.
Pieper and I also discussed so-called “augmented reality” — users point their phone’s camera at an object, building, landmark, etc, and get information and content about it displayed on the phone’s screen in real time — and how Promixic might “play” in this arena. The Android G1′s compass feature is a rudimentary version of this capability.
As the company develops these new features and incorporates more data sources it will likely evolve into a mobile search engine and become less of a news reader. Right now, however, it’s a fascinating hybrid and whether you like it or not may well depend on whether you see it as a news reader or as a mobile search engine.