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Spezify: Another Attempt At Visual Search

Posted by Sravan | August 12, 2009 .

Despite what detractors say, visual search is necessary and can fill the gap in searching for something about which the user is vague to begin with. Thus, it is being attempted by many startups: SearchMe, oSkope, KartOO, Viewzi and now Spezify. There is place for more players until one or two winners stand out.

Spezify has nailed one aspect of visual search: monetizing. It doesn’t have its own search index, but renders results obtained from (currently) 6 different search engines: Yahoo!, MSN, Twitter, Flickr, Amazon and eBay. The latter two sources are Spezify’s key to monetizing, though I am not sure whether it is already being done. There is however an option to select which search engines to use.

Unlike Viewzi, which has different views with different designs and GUI (partly based on the result type), Spezify treats all results equally.

Spezify 1

However, perhaps because text results are the fastest, the text links (with a nice abstract about each) appear first and alongside them come the Twitter results (when Twitter is not down due to maintenance or DoS or heavy load or whatever reasons). The Flickr and (mostly) Youtube results form the periphery. Thus, the results are not just “concentrically ordered” based on their page rank but also based on the time to retrieve them.

The search string-dependent text field distracted me slightly, but the way the results were presented with different easy-on-eyes background colors impressed me. The results can be navigated across with the scroll bars or the hand symbol, and it could become a great multitouch experience on this Flex-based search site.

The user can see the full size of an image and play a video directly from the search page, which is again very useful to skim and sieve for right results.

Spezify 2

What doesn’t seem to work very well yet is the “go to next page” equivalents of moving away from the center to a corner of the search space.

While Viewzi’s separate views style has its advantage especially in a categorical search, so does this all-in-one view that Spezify adopts, for instance in a generic “how to” search.

Spezify had been in public beta since April 2009 and was officially released a couple of months ago. Based in Stockholm, its founders Felix af Ekenstam and Per Persson have over 10 years of experience within the creative digital industry.

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