Jon Goldhill sent me a link to his company's new data-oriented search engine, which I think has interesting potential: zanran.com
According to their website:
What is Zanran?
Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web. This is the numerical data that people have presented as graphs and tables and charts. For example, the data could be a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a barchart shown as an image in an HTML page. This huge amount of information can be difficult to find using conventional search engines, which are focused primarily on finding text rather than graphs, tables and bar charts.
Put more simply: Zanran is Google for data.
How it works… technology overview
Zanran doesn't work by spotting wording in the text and looking for images – it's the other way round. The system examines millions of images and decides for each one whether it's a graph, chart or table – whether it has numerical content.
The core technology is patented computer vision algorithms that decide whether an image is numerical – and they're accurate (about 98%). But the huge majority of images on the internet are not graphs etc. So even though the accuracy is high, you will still get some non-numerical images.
In comparison, looking for tables is relatively simple. Once we've found a table we then have to decide whether it's essentially numerical - and we have algorithms for that.
Our programmes then take suitable text near that image and build the search engine around that text. At present, we extract tables and images from HTML, PDF and Excel files and will be processing PowerPoint and Word documents in the near future.
I've added a link on our resources page. Check it out.