December 01, 2010, 8:00 AM — Much ado has been made about Google Labs. For good reason, actually. Some of the experiments from Google Labs have turned into excellent applications that are truly mindblowing (hello, Google Goggles). But what about Google's ugly stepsister? Yes, Yahoo has its very own laboratories, just brimming with second-tier ideas and applications that really are worth a look.
[ See also: "New Yahoo Game Teaches Economic Theory With Zombies" | ITworld's Chris Nerney on Yahoo: "Maybe Yahoo just can't be fixed" and "Bartz whiffs again on 'What is Yahoo?' question" ]
Read on to see how Yahoo Labs is working to make the web a better place. No, really.
Context driven search results
Search engines return results based on your textural query. Yahoo's Motif attempts to do more by offering results based on your search term's context. The application is built around Wikipedia, so results are returned from the Wikipedia database.
For example, if you type "UFO", you get back Wikipedia's entry for "MUFON". Now, the cool part comes in when you look to the menu on the left. There is a list of choices based on your search term's context. For the term "UFO", matching articles appear in the categories of Science, Television, Music, Games and Aviation. Adding this sort of table of contents to your search is actually very useful. Especially if all of your research is done via Wikipedia.
Next page: Use Yahoo to predict things. Anythings.