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Google to deliver ‘search without search’

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Forget Instant searching. Google’s new goal is to predict what you want to know about before you even ask. At the LeWeb conference in Paris, Marissa Mayer, consumer products chief at Google, spoke about her new new role at Google and how the company plans to know what you want before you want it.

“We’re looking at a lot of things in this geographic area, but we’re also doing some things in the area of contextual discovery,” Mayer said. “And that’s can we take location and a user’s context, and basically figure out what pieces of information they need. It’s kind of search without search – without you saying anything in voice search, or typing anything – can we figure out, you haven’t been to this place in Paris before, and you were just doing this, so we’ll give you information about this place, when it was built, what was important about it, et cetera. If you walk past it every day we’ll give you the news So, something like that. So we’re trying to play around with some new concepts on how you find information. We have a couple things that we’re experimenting with, but I anticipate that it will be out sometime next year.”

She elaborated, saying that the idea is to push information to people and put location in context. Contextual discovery can work on the web as well. If on a PC, Google can see what websites you’ve been viewing recently and make smart recommendations based on patterns it picks up. When on an Android phone, Google has GPS data that tells it where you are (if you activate it, of course). Using this data, Google may see that you just arrived, for the first time, at the Statue of Liberty and provide information about it to you. Or if you’re entering the same coffee place you always enter, it may bring up the menu.

The idea is pretty interesting, but delivering the info will be difficult. If users don’t actually make a search, how does Google justify pushing contextual search results to them? Would the results be in the browser, or come via text–maybe an email?

Mayer also spoke about Google’s acquisitions, Yahoo, social networking, and how Chrome OS is competing with Android. Video of the full interview is below.

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