Yahoo’s research labs team in Barcelona are working on a search engine application that is built to predict the future. Time Explorer is currently in its beta stage, and makes forecasts based on New York Times articles dating back to the late 80′s. The app does not take into account breaking news and real time data, but that is certainly the direction that the research team will be taking it.
Time Explorer draws its information from a collection of 1.8 million New York Times (NYT) articles dating from 1987 to 2007. With its ability to recognize references to specific times in the future – “June 2012” for example – or use the article’s publication date to determine relative timings – “merger next year” – the search engine is able to show the coverage relevant to a search term over time. This is similar to Recorded Future’s “momentum,” indicating when the search term has attracted the most heat in terms of articles.
Brief summaries of the articles themselves are listed below the timeline, while the titles of articles falling within a particular year – indicated by a scrollable blue highlight – appear above the timeline. Meanwhile, a box to the right displays the names of people, organizations and places that feature prominently in the articles. These can be added to the timeline with a click to compare the coverage of both topics.