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Quaero (Latin for I seek) is a European research and development program which has the goal of developing multimedia and multilingual indexing and management tools for professional and general public applications (such as search engines). The European Commission approved the aid granted by France on 11 March 2008
This program is supported by the OSEO. It is a French project with the participation of several German partners. The consortium is led by Thomson. Other companies involved in the consortium are: France Télécom, Exalead, Bertin Technologies, Jouve, Grass Valley GmbH, Vecsys, Vecsys Research, LTU Technologies and Synapse Développement. Many public research institutes are also involved, including LIMSI-CNRS, INRIA, IRCAM, RWTH Aachen, University of Karlsruhe, IRIT, Clips Imag, GET, INRA; as well as other public organisations such as INA, BNF, LIPN and DGA.
According to the AII press release the main targeted applications can be divided in three broad classes: multimedia indexing and search tools for professional and general public use, including mobile environments; professional solutions for production, post-production, management and distribution of multimedia documents; and facilitation of access to cultural heritage such as audiovisual archives and digital libraries.
Announcements and history
Quaero was announced by Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder during the French-German ministerial conference in April 2005. It was put forward again by Jacques Chirac in August 2005 at the inauguration of the new agency created to fund such programs, the Agence de l'innovation industrielle (AII), and in January 2006 in his New Year addresses, which substantially rose interest in the general public. Quaero was part of the first programs selected by the AII in April 2006. In December 2006, the new German government announced that it will devote its share of the funding to a slightly modified program geared toward knowledge management and semantic web, under the name of Theseus. Quaero received the approval of the European Commission in March 2008. €99m from the French government will go towards development of the program.
The search engine
The search engine application has been the focus of the attention of many news articles. As a consequence, Quaero is often cited as a European competitor to Google, as well as other commercial search engines such as Yahoo, Microsoft's Bing and Ask.com.
Quaero is not intended to be a text-based search engine but is mainly meant for multimedia search. The search engine will use techniques for recognizing, transcribing, indexing, and automatic translation of audiovisual documents and it will operate in several languages. There is also mention of automatic recognition and indexing of images.
According to an article in The Economist, Quaero will allow users to search using a "query image", not just a group of keywords. In a process known as "image mining", software that recognises shapes and colours will be used to look for and retrieve still images and video clips that contain images similar to the query image. (The software is supplied by LTU Technologies.) A technique called "keyword propagation" will be used so that when Quaero finds a descriptionless image which contains elements of or completely matches a properly labelled image, it will append the description from the labelled image to the unlabelled one. This will ensure faster searches and a definite enrichment of the web, also linguistically, as the primary interface and query terms were supposed to be in French and German.
As France will be researching image-searching, Germany was supposed to be advancing voice clip and sound media searches, with the intention of transcribing their content to text, and translating it to other languages, before they pulled out of the project. This would also allow for "query sound clips" following the paradigm of the "query image" mentioned above.
The French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné pointed out that the funding behind the project is dwarfed by both Microsoft or Google. Search experts Autonomy, (Financial Times) called the plan "a blatant case of misguided and unnecessary nationalism". The main issues being that: by the time of Quaero's launch, the search engine market will be a generation ahead of Quaero in media and device capabilities; some argue that Mr Chirac was more interested in defending French pride than global advancement of the Internet.
According to the print edition of The Economist, January 6, 2007 (pp. 5), Quaero "was reportedly scrapped" since the German part "grumbled about the cost and have indicated they will produce their own, scaled-down search engine".
On December 18, 2006, Hartmut Schauerte, a state secretary within the Ministry for Economics and Labour, announced during the IT-summit in Potsdam that a German consortium has put together a semantic search project called Theseus that would be distinct from Quaero.
The main source of disagreement was the format of the search engine, with German engineers favoring a text-based search engine and the French engineers favoring a multimedia search engine. Many German engineers also balked at what they thought was becoming too much of an anti-Google project, rather than a project driven by its own ideals.
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- ↑ PDF (1.70 MiB), Press release from AII, 26-APR-06.
- ↑ "europe.au". http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/418&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- ↑ "eetimes.de". http://www.eetimes.de/bus/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=186700854. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- ↑ Attack of the Eurogoogle, The Economist Technology Quarterly, 2006-03-11, page 8-9.
- ↑ "guardian.co.uk". http://technology.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1761482,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- ↑ IT-Gipfel: Quaero heißt jetzt Theseus, IT-summit: Quaero is called now Theseus
- ↑ IHT Jan 2007