Interest in SMS-Based Internet Access Soares

October 15, 2004  - ( - Edinburgh/Cambridge/Bad Bergzabern (Linguit GmbH). When on the move, most of us do not carry 3G mobile phones or advanced PDFs, and Internet access via WAP on ordinary GSM phones is considered too cumbersome by many people.

Nuggets, a new mobile service offering in the UK tries to meet mobile information needs by relying on the more popular text messages (SMS). It allows sending a query (either a set of keywords or a plain English question) to a central number which searches the Internet on the user's behalf, and delivers the result back per SMS for 50p per answer.

Nuggets use advanced question answering technology to squeeze relevant answers in the 160 characters allowed by a single text message. "Customers ask when somebody was born, who Elfriede Jelinek is, or where the table mountains are." explains Jochen Leidner, the founder of Linguit. "The BBC recently reported singer Robbie Williams as saying that women who initially rejected him sometimes reconsidered after running his name through a search engine. With Nuggets, they could find out about his fame from anywhere, using their mobile." The ability to succeed, however, depends on the availability of the respective data on the Internet in the first place. "If you aren't mentioned or do not have a homepage, then Nuggets can't find you."

At present, there are two main groups of users of the service. One group uses it for entertainment purposes, just to explore what the technology is capable of or what's out there on the Internet. Entertainment also includes pub quiz questions, of course. A second group uses Nuggets to retrieve vital information, population facts, corporate information, hotel addresses and phone numbers. The Nuggets developers intend to enhance the service with more features soon and consider offering it in other European countries.

Linguit GmbH is a leading provider of consulting, services and OEM software components in the area of Natural Language Proocessing (NLP). Linguit's expertise spans all main areas of computational linguistics, language & speech technology and information retrieval. A focus is on information extraction (i.e., the automatic mining of unstructured textual data to obtain structured information representations), and automatic question answering to make information access more human-friendly.