Symbian Fundation and Baidu (the largest Chinese search engine) annonced today that they will collaborate in a project they call “box computing”. The basic idea behind box computing is that the user inputs an arbitrary term into a search box in is then provided the information or object queried, not the traditional list of possible matches. This is one way to go with search, but I think it feels a bit old. Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” and the Mozilla Awesome Bar changed the way how I thought about searches, and new services keeps redefining that idea almost weakly. This weekend I played with Google Goggles and I think its a real game-changer. Previous to Goggles was Siri, and as Robert Scoble put it “if you miss Siri you will miss the future of the Web“. These services are all very impressive, but when I come to think about “box computing” I think about the computing the device will do for you when you go on with your every day tasks. I’d like my mobile device to be an intelligent computing box, and not a stupid device with some more or less intelligent search boxes. My colleague Jonas wrote about his ideas for some sort of device intelligence. The basic idea is to understand the ongoing interactions and listen to the talk. If two people talk about meeting up for a cup coffee, why can’t the devices automatically make the calendar reservations and aid you in your ongoing social interaction? I want my mobile device to be socially, spatially and temporally aware and make my life easier. If I get into my car to drive to a holiday location I want it to automatically switch into navigation mode and get me to the location that I have been talking about for weeks, and it has of course already helped me with the reservations and my “out-of-work” scheduling. Box computing sounds like something everybody else already have done. Apple has an integrated search in their iPhones and Google has several search applications for several platforms (including Symbian). I’m not really sure what this new collaboration will try to achieve, but I don’t get all to impressed when I read the examples Symbian and Baidu puts forward in their recent post about their collaboration:
For example, users may be looking for anti-virus software, shopping, or searching for stock. In the future, when a user enters a search term into the search box, Baidu’s box computing technology will not need to show the user the search results; instead, it will simply show the user the current stock prices or ask them if he or she wants to download the anti-virus software.
With the full integration of box computing technology into the deeper levels of the Symbian platform, a user will be able to search the internet for services and information as well as their smartphone’s applications, all from a single search box.