In a bid to undermine the dominance of English on the internet and the global supremacy of American internet search engine Google the French have spent 1.7bn of taxpayers’ funds to promote European technological innovation Quaero – Latin for “I seek”. This multilingual function search engine "Quaero" is intended to leapfrog Google, and other challengers such as Yahoo and Ask Jeeves, by introducing the capability for image and sound searches, in addition to the searches by keyword that drive existing engines.
A user will be able to load an image from a photograph or film, and Quaero will seek others like it. Or, a searcher can play a recording, and expect Quaero to find other recordings by the same voice, or containing the same phrases.
This will presumably be a boon to the broadcast and entertainment industries, making it easier to search film, image and sound archives worldwide for clips or content.
Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said earlier this month it was “a good thing”, because “there are beneficial consequences for our business when universities have more money and invent new things”.
Interestingly image and sound research tools are now among Google’s development priorities.
Turning points in history have sometimes been attributed to ulikely events, a project which had the backing at the behest of French President Jacques Chirac would get my vote if such a grand design came to fruition.