Most conventional search engines that you may be familiar with take a query from a searcher, and compare the terms within it to an index of the Web.
Those search engines don’t typically look for information to be found upon your desktop computer, or upon computers within your local network.
Imagine instead, that you are writing a document, and decide to perform a search to find more information related to the subject that you are writing about. You perform that search using a desktop search application, and the text within your document is used as part of the search that you are performing.
That’s the idea behind a new patent granted to Google today, and written by Niniane Wang and Stephen R. Lawrence:
Systems and methods for associating a keyword with a user interface area (US Patent 7,272,601)
The patent was originally filed on March 31, 2004. Here’s the abstract:
Systems and methods for associating a keyword with a window are described. In one described system, a computer program, such as an indexer, captures processor, or query system, associates a keyword with a first user interface area. The query system or other computer program receives a signal that the first user interface is inactive and that a second user interface area is active and, in response, generates an implicit search query that includes the keyword associated with the first user interface area.
This desktop search can allow someone to perform a query of their own from their desktop, or it can generate an implicit query of its own from what it finds in the active window of the computer, whether a document or some other content (emails, IMs, chat messages, etc.).
Under this system would be found an index composed of a local index comprised of documents on the client machine, and other storage devices on a local network, and a global index from a place like the Web.
One of the important aspects of this method would be that the document that was in an active window at the time of the search would be used to generate implicit search queries. Content from inactive windows might also be used, but their value would be relied upon less depending upon the length of time that they were inactive.