By N.S. Ramnath| Apr 12, 2011
The iPhone, and of late, the iPad have both changed the way we get information from a device. The consumer is now looking not just for access, but also for ease of use. Consider the iPad and iPhone apps for The Economist magazine. The ease with which one can shift between listening and reading, or doing both and the comfort of moving from one article to the next are far superior to what we get on a Web browser. Now, what if someone tries to give that kind of experience on our PCs?
Qwiki.com attempts to do just that. When you search for a topic, the site compiles a multimedia presentation on it. There are images, infographics, videos and a text-to-speech reads out the written text. Even on obscure subjects such as a search on Udumalpet, a small town in Tamil Nadu, or
cybernetics, it does a decent job.
It draws the text primarily from Wikipedia, and the images from various online sources. Its text-to-speech software is not bad. So far, the text, images, audio and video on the Internet have all been in silos, unless someone put them all together manually.
In Qwiki, it’s automated. What's in the pipeline seems to be even more exciting. A demo of an alarm clock, that will presumably work on iPhone, picks up information from different sources such as personal calendar, daily tasks and local Web sites, and integrates them into the alarm. Thus the alarm bell will be followed by a small presentation on how the day will look like. That of course, will work best on an iPhone. But then, iPhone and iPad apps have not been launched yet. Going by what one sees on the Web browser, it should certainly be worth the wait.