Visual browsing with SearchMe and PicLens

The startup search engine with the slick coverflow user interface SearchMe yesterday launched a raft of new features. Fly-through web searching and browsing sites like SearchMe and PicLens aren’t going to replace the current click-and-load model of information foraging on the web. Google with it’s text snippets is faster and more efficient for text searches which constitute the bulk of queries.

But SearchMe and PicLens are useful for specific cases where the user is evaluating the look-and-feel and not the textual specifics of pages or images – such as image & video searches. For example. the graphic designers in our studio find these applications useful for browsing images for inspiration.

They are also useful for the growing home theater PC mode of lean-back couch surfing, which tends to be more social. I have both an HP Windows Vista-based HTPC as well as a Mac Mini that I use as my home music system, HDTV receiver, PVR, home movie and slideshow projector and occasionally to show-and-tell friends and family about viral or interesting websites and videos.

Google and the current set of dominant lean-forward web applications are not particularly pleasant to use in this environment. SearchMe and PicLense are much better suited for browsing and group-evaluating pages from a distance. As social couch surfing becomes more prevalent, these new models will take off.

Stacks

In addition to the requisite image and video search, one feature SearchMe released amounts to essentially a new product – Stacks. With Stacks, SearchMe applies their UI paradigm to the web bookmarks. They upgrade the bookmark browsing experience from click-on-a-list-of-text-links to a smooth, gesture-based visual experience.

You can use stacks in place of any lists of URLs you might otherwise post to a blog or email – a list of resorts options for a group holiday, a portfolio of client work, you name it. It’s a strong enough offering that it can stand on its own separate from the core search engine.

(Unfortunately SearchMe no longer exists, so the example that used to be published here no longer exists).

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