I don’t normally blog about apps, tools and services, but I ran into a search engine today that is blowing my mind.  AT face value, Exalead is nothing special.  It looks like every other search bar/engine with fewer options than the big guys like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Ask.  But a couple of minutes of looking under the hood starts to get intriguing.  Clicking on advanced search (and the fact that advanced search is easy to find is refreshing in itself) brings us a drop down menu from the search bar with some interesting features such as proximity search, phonetic (“sounds like”) and optional search terms.  This is cool, but not necessarily enough to make me jump ship from my normal search engines (Google and Blekko).

What absolutely blew my mind was their Labs.  They have a search product that searches music by genre and even chord changes!  You can click on a map and bring up a view of where all the concerts in a certain genre will be occurring tonight based on info from Last.fm.  They also have an image search engine that let you search based on colour with settings for luminosity and percentage of image with your target colour.  Another search engine gives you a graphic like the old Google Wonder Wheel that show relationships between web sites.  I haven’t played with it enough yet to determine how it figures out these relationships but it sure is fun to explore.

I have to admit that as I was doing my reading in an Online Search course that I’m taking, I was starting to get depressed at the state of web search engines.  There really didn’t seem to be any alternative to Google and certainly nothing creative out there.  Now that I’ve explored Exalead, I think that we’re going to be spending some serious time together!

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