This is a bit of a belated blog post, but we wanted to get our winner’s permission to share his fascinating story along with announcing his win.

Those of you who follow our blog would know that we were one of the prize sponsors at Semantic Hack in San Francisco at the beginning of the month.

We’d like to offer a big congratulations to Scott C. Smith on his win!

We’d like to offer a big congratulations to Scott C. Smith on his win!

Scott took home a $500 Amazon.com gift card and $12,000 worth of usage of our API for a year. He won this prize for his still in-progress iPhone app with which students could play with words by discovering the funny juxtapositions of multiple meanings.

Following the Hackathon, we got in touch with our winner to arrange the delivery of his hard-won loot, which is when we came to learn of his story.

Last year at this time, I had never heard of an API. I was a school teacher looking for a way to get paid doing what I love, which is looking at maps.

“Last year at this time, I had never heard of an API. I was a school teacher looking for a way to get paid doing what I love, which is looking at maps.” Scott revealed to me in the eMail thanking me for the prize.

While participating in an iOS programming bootcamp, Scott came up with his idea for an app which allows exploring one’s surrounding by identifying Wikipedia articles that describe locations nearby.

“I described my idea of letting people touch a location on a map as a way of learning more about it, by having Wikipedia articles appear, for instance.”

“My instructor thought that would be possible and asked if Wikipedia had an API. That was the first I’d heard the term, so I discreetly Googled it.”

Scott spent all of last fall perfecting his application, tracking down the right APIs to use and becoming familiar with websites for software developers.

This culminated in the release of his app, TapAMap on the Apple App Store in January.

Scott got into semantics when he attended a presentation by Eric Franzon, VP Community at SemanticWeb.com.

“I went to the [Semantic Hack] hackathon, but felt a little intimidated by all the PhD hard-core coders. I wasn’t the only newbie, though. I talked to some folks about my question of which would be the best ontology editor for someone like me to play with as a way of learning.”

[I] was attracted to SpringSense because you provided what for me was an easy way to access it.

“By the time I was done with that, most of the hacking groups had formed and were hunched over their laptops or busily exchanging ideas. So I sat by myself and began reading about each of the sponsors. I played with the APIs to get a sense of what they could do, and was attracted to SpringSense because you provided what for me was an easy way to access it.”

As a lover of language, Scott was was attracted to the disambiguation possibilities: “I started to dream up an iPhone app (since that’s all I can do at this point!) with which students could play with words by discovering the funny juxtaposition of multiple meanings.”

We’ll keep you posted about Scott’s progress on his iPhone app. We’re very keen to play with it ourselves!

The SpringSense Meaning Recognition API is available now with a FREE usage tier on Mashape.

We’ve had a busy weekend for the SpringSense Meaning Recognition API, with three Hackathons around the world featuring v2 of the API.

First was APIDays Mediterranea‘s warm up Hackathon at Madrid@Rails, then Semantic Hack in San Francisco and AngelhackNYC in New York City.

We were proud prize sponsors for the latter two, with the Best Use of the SpringSense API Prize comprising of a $500 Amazon.com gift card and a $12,000 worth of API usage over a year — a total prize value of $12,500.

We’d like to congratulate Lance Nanek who won our Angelhack NYC prize. Lance combined Google Glass, an Android handset and the API to create a very cool app to help nurses in their role. See his demo here.

Special thanks to Mashape, our API hub for their support in getting the API into the hands of the Hackathon developers.

The API is available now on Mashape with a free usage tier.

Those of you familiar with the SpringSense story will be aware that until recently, SpringSense held the title of the world’s most accurate noun-sense disambiguator, and delivered this accuracy in real-time.

In the July/August 2012 issue of IEEE Intelligent System, an academic paper from P. Chen, C. Bowes (Uni. of Houston) and W. Ding, M. Choly (Uni. of Massachusetts, Boston) described a technique that was able to surpass the accuracy of version 1.0 of our technology. Whilst unable to perform the task quickly enough to be useful to enterprise, we still didn’t like the idea of being number 2, so we set about reclaiming the title.

We still didn’t like the idea of being number two, so we set about reclaiming the title

The mission we charged our chief scientist with, was to do whatever it took to regain top position; Fred Rotbart, PhD, was told nothing was off-limits. In our early sessions as we investigated the possibilities, it quickly became clear that the basis of our existing approach was valid as it offered us real-time speed, something we couldn’t sacrifice if we wanted a solution that could be used by our customers in enterprise.

A way forward presented itself; our innovative approach to NLP was valid, but we needed to re-visit our implementation. Dr Rotbart proceeded to pull apart our algorithm, and put it back together well oiled and with less cruft, which edged us closer to our goal. Our big breakthrough though, came after a moment of insight from Dr Rotbart, leading him to find an alternative and more accurate way of using the results of our data-mining algorithm to perform the noun-sense disambiguation.

The result was an increase in accuracy to a world leading 83.4%, as measured by the industry and academic benchmark SemEval 4 (task 7), without sacrificing any of the performance that allows SpringSense to be used for high volume transactional usage, such as Big Data and enterprise search.

Being overtaken by a more accurate solution was a useful learning experience for us as a team. What we learned from the journey was that to be useful to our customers, a solution needs to work in real-time without sacrificing accuracy. Our mission here in the SpringSense team remains to lead the world in both speed and accuracy.

The new version with the accuracy improvements is already live on the Mashape API Hub, we’d love for you to try it out and give us your feedback; a free plan is offered for your evaluation. Bindings are available for Ruby, Python, Java and ElasticSearch and more.

SharePoint Early Adopter Program Now Open!

Due to overwhelming demand from SharePoint users, we have built a downloadable SharePoint installer that lets companies with a Microsoft SharePoint installation improve their search functionality and document findability at the click of a mouse.

Once installed, SpringSense plugs into the FAST-for-SharePoint’s document processing and querying pipelines to disambiguate documents and the search query for a profoundly more human-friendly search experience and quantifiably more relevant search results.

SpringSense for SharePoint is available for free evaluation for members of our Early Adopter program. More information can be found here.

 

A little while back, we were looking for a challenge that would really put SpringSense through its paces. We wanted to test not only how robust our technology was, but how quickly it could handle a huge corpus, something that would equate to the biggest enterprise document repositories. Which is how we came up with the idea to index & disambiguate the entire English-language Wikipedia. Yep, the whole thing. That’s a whole lot of text, almost 4,000,000 articles in fact.

The good news is that SpringSense passed with flying colours. We were able to index and disambiguate all 3,860,286 articles in less than 8 hours. A feat that we were only able to achieve with the help of big data specialists InfoChimps and their fabulous Ironfan product.

The other benefit is that now when you use our online demo to compare search results for ambiguous terms such as ‘cat vet’, the result is based on the entire English-language Wikipedia. Why not give it a try today?

This weekend, while the rest of Australia was doing their Christmas shopping, a committed group of developers at Open Universities Australia was deploying their upgraded search solution featuring SpringSense.

The integration and deployment went off without a hitch and SpringSense is now live and working its magic helping potential students find the right course. Swing by http://www.open.edu.au and give it a try!

On The Road Again

We are super excited about attending the prestigious CIO Summit in Malaysia next month. CIO Summit brings together CIO’s looking for solutions to pressing business challenges and vendors with innovative solutions that deliver tangible business results.

Like their counterparts in the West, CIO’s in Asia are looking to enhanced search capabilities as a means of increasing productivity. We’re looking forward to showing some of Asia’s leading CIO’s how SpringSense can unlock value in their organizations.

It also doesn’t hurt that the summit is being held at the wonderful Golden Palm Tree resort in Kuala Lumpur!

We are kicking goals here at SpringSense, with another successful commercial trial and satisfied customer under our belts!

This time we tackled the website search function of Open Universities Australia, a national leader in providing open and flexible access to quality tertiary education, enrolling more than 144,000 students since 1993. They provide access to over 1100 units and 130 qualifications taught by 20 of Australia’s leading universities and higher education providers.

No prizes for guessing the aim of the game was to boost the relevancy of OUA’s current search solution with a view to better matching the queries of potential students to the information they were searching for, thus increasing the chances of enrolment for OUA.

The trial used data from the 200 most popular searches used on the OUA website, comparing results before and after the SpringSense integration. How did we perform? The results were impressive in both precision and recall, Jose Herrera-Perea, Director-Digital Strategy at OUA said “It is clear that SpringSense has proved a significant improvement in quality of searches in our in-site search for course/unit”.

OUA are now considering a permanent SpringSense deployment across their websites and additional applications as part of their 2012 initiatives to improve their current systems and processes.

Mission complete!

We are excited to welcome a new addition to the SpringSense team!

Frank Losinno joins us fresh from a 6 year stint in the UK working in a variety of roles in the IT industry. Frank is our new Business Development Manager, bringing over 12 years of IT experience and a wealth of knowledge from a wide range of areas such as retail, finance, entertainment and government.

With SpringSense gathering momentum and growing at a rapid rate, he is going to have his hands full!

A huge welcome to Frank from the team at SpringSense.

SpringSense’s CTO Tal Rotbart will be giving a lightning talk at tonight’s Search Engine Hack Night in Melbourne. Tal will be discussing how to implement meaning-based search using Solr.

Other presentations on the night include Chris Berkhout talking about ElasticSeach, Thinking Sphinx and Flying Sphinx creator Pat Allen, discussing full-text search with Sphinx and Florian Hanke, creator of the Picky search engine, gives us “A peek into search engines / Picky: Ruby, Fast, Flexible (pick three)”.

Should be a great night for those interested in enterprise search.