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Free and easy Internet searching with Pingar

Media Release August 5 2008

Free and easy Internet searching with Pingar

Fed up with clicking through multiple links on the Internet and not finding the answer you need? A Tauranga company has developed online search technology which will give frustrated Internet users faster, better results.

Start- up company Pingar’s managing director Peter Wren-Hilton believes it will set a new standard in web browsing.

“The big difference with Pingar’s search engine is that it understands the context of a query. You can type in a natural language question and, rather than hunting for key words, our engine understands the question in its entirety.

Pingar then searches a number of data sources, extracts the relevant content from each, and creates a dynamic customised PDF document. The process takes seconds. A hyper link back to the original source document is provided for each section of content.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has helped Pingar fast track development of its technology, with funding of nearly $77,000 through its TechNZ programme to create the advanced billing, targeting and revenue sharing features of the system.

Pingar is working with the world leading software development team at the WaikatoLink Hothouse which is part of WaikatoLink, the commercialisation company of the University of Waikato.

Foundation business manager Shane Stuart says the Foundation has also been a long term investor in building the capability underpinning the WaikatoLink Hothouse software development expertise.

“It is great to see the public investment in supporting the machine learning group at the University of Waikato now beginning to transfer into high growth commercial opportunities.”

Mr Wren-Hilton says while small, the investment from the Foundation has been crucial.

“We are a start-up facing all the usual costs of business development as well as maintaining an office in the UK and focusing on sales and marketing to get our product known. The Foundation support allowed us to go ahead and work with WaikatoLink which is a really successful partnership.”


Mr Wren-Hilton says Pingar’s platform won’t replace existing search engines such as Google or Yahoo, which hunt for matching key words in every document on the World Wide Web. Instead Pingar works with content rich organisations, such as universities, media companies and financial institutions, to make their information available to registered users.

“When these organisations partner with us an option to register with Pingar for free is offered on their website. In return for answering a few basic questions about their age, sex, location and occupation browsers get a unique log-in password and can then use our engine to search for the information they want.”

The key to the service being free is that Pingar then sells demographic profiles of users to advertisers. “They can put their logo or their advertising at the top of pages being searched by Pingar users and better target the demographic groups they are trying to reach,” says Mr Wren-Hilton.

Pingar’s technology tracks and allocates advertising revenue which is split between Pingar and the content owner. Says Mr Wren-Hilton: “Over time, content owners will eventually receive quite a sizeable cheque as more users sign up for the service.”

WaikatoLink business analyst Carl Ebbers describes Pingar’s platform as cutting edge technology that will fundamentally change how people search the Internet and open the door to information which has been prohibitively expensive in the past.

“One of the problems with the Internet is that a lot of useful information is hidden behind subscription or log-in walls.

“In a profession like mine it’s difficult to find easily available information – a lot of it is quite technical and obscure and it can be hard to judge what reports and documents are going to be useful. You can spend $10,000 buying a huge report that may or may not contain what you want. Spending that amount of money is a big business decision. Pingar’s ability to provide free access to authoritative data sources will be a major benefit for many research professions.”

The team at the WaikatoLink Hothouse has been working with other research partners in the United Kingdom and India to build the contextualised search engine.

English-born Peter Wren-Hilton and his New Zealand wife moved to New Zealand five years ago. The idea behind Pingar’s search technology was born out of Mr Wren-Hilton’s own frustration with the reliability of search results on the Internet.

“At the time I was running a company in the UK that worked for clients wanting their competitors’ websites tracked constantly for changes. We developed a way of automating that process and I realised that we could combine an improved search engine with this automated function to deliver technology that would work for users and content owners.”

Mr Wren-Hilton says while small, the investment from the Foundation has been crucial. “We are a start-up facing all the usual costs of business development as well as maintaining an office in the UK and focusing on sales and marketing to get our product known. The Foundation support allowed us to go ahead and work with WaikatoLink which is a really successful partnership.”


Pingar has two staff in Tauranga, three in the UK and nine in India, where much of its development takes place. Part of Pingar’s platform is included in Microsoft’s latest version of Office 2007 and IE7 and the company recently attended the 2008 UK Technology, Innovation and Growth Forum. Mr Wren-Hilton says the company is talking to a number of potential investors as a result of taking part in the Forum.


ENDS

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