On November 12, 1990, Bill Gates gave the keynote at Comdex entitled Information at Your Fingertips. His vision was that “someone can sit down at their PC and see the information that's important for them. If they want more detail, they ought to just point and click and that detail should come up on the screen for them.” This view was actually fairly visionary given that Tim Berniers-Lee had, only one month before, started prototyping the first browser to what he called the “world wide web” and the internet wouldn’t become a household word until five years later with the advent of Netscape's IPO.
Limited Progress in the Past 18 Years
In the 18 years following Bill's vision, the Information At Your Fingertips experience became possible within a web browser assuming the web designer had thought through the specific aspects of the site that a user might want to learn more about and made them either links to new web pages or targets for floating content (via AJAX). In addition, if you happened to be at the home page of your favorite search engine when the need to access additional information arose, then all you had to do was type in a search term and point and click links or press the Back button until you found what you were seeking.
Lowering the Barriers to Search
However, until May 15, 2008, when KallOut shipped the first "selection-based search" application, information was not really at your fingertips if you were using any application other than a web browser. The reason for this is that the world had standardized on the concept of "browser-based search" and this created certain hurdles to accessing all of the information that you might want when you were in the midst of using any other application (e.g., Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.). The barriers to search that included launching a browser, typing in search terms and viewing the results in full-page browser windows that completely covered up what you were working on meant that browser-based search systems were simply not convenient enough to deliver Information At Your Fingertips.
KallOut: Where Search Begins™
To correct this, KallOut invented the world’s first “selection-based search” system. For the first time, accessing the best information available on the web could be accomplished in the midst of whatever you were doing on your PC with no typing and no context switch required. By seamlessly integrating with the most popular applications, KallOut is able to deliver results in the context of any e-mail, document, presentation, spreadsheet or web page. In addition, KallOut offers BestGuess™ menu suggestions that are based on both detailed analysis of the text selected and the “wisdom of crowds” as expressed by other users' choices.
Offering Results In Context Frees Search From The Browser
Unlike other “browser-based search” systems that are trapped inside the browser, KallOut displays content from the most popular sites on the web inside floating information palettes. These KallOuts offer fast access to Google Maps, Wikipedia Articles, YouTube Videos, Flickr Photos, Amazon Products, Yahoo News and many more great search results from the best sites on the web. In addition to what is presented, KallOut's method of presenting only the must-have aspects of each site allows its always-on-top windows to avoid obscuring the user's primary focus.
Finally, Information at Your Fingertips
This synergy between "Selection-based Search", "BestGuess Menu Suggestions" and "Results in Context" is the key to our claim that KallOut is the first company to fully deliver Information at Your Fingertips. We're sorry it took us 18 years from Bill's keynote and 2 years from our founding to complete this task but we've been, as the Herman cartoon below suggests, "sitting around inventing." While we don't plan to stop inventing, it is very nice to have our initial invention available for everyone to use.
The KallOut Team
© KallOut, Inc., 2008
As the first post in the KallOut blog, we want to welcome you to a discussion of KallOut and encourage you to send us your comments, kudos and critiques. These will help us improve the product and succeed with our mission of providing the most compelling search experiences possible.