Is the True Knowledge API an Answer to Natural Language Search?

Google has dominated the search engine world for years, weathering the attempts of many competitors who have tried and failed to capture a piece of the search engine market. True Knowledge, a new natural language search service, is hoping to gain a piece of the search pie by harnessing the power of semantic data queries on the web.

Unlike traditional search engines such as Google, which return a list of web pages, True Knowledge attempts to return correct answers to user queries, along with related information from its extensive database of facts. One advantage to this type of search result is that answers can be returned as simple sentences, improving their utility on mobile devices. Understanding that this type of minimalistic search result can be useful on platforms other than web browsers, True Knowledge has released a set of APIs to allow developers to take advantage of their search technology (technical details at our True Knowledge API profile).

A recent True Knowledge press release describes the functionality of the APIs:

True Knowledge offers two distinct API services for developers: the "Direct Answer API" and the "Query API." The Direct Answer API allows developers to leverage True Knowledge's natural language question answering technology, giving any search site or application the ability to provide a single direct answer for questions asked on any subject in plain English. This is especially well suited to mobile applications where providing a lengthy list of search results may be impractical.

The Query API allows developers to bypass True Knowledge`s natural language translation system and directly query True Knowledge's knowledge base using a simple Query Language.

Both the True Knowledge Direct Answer API and the Query API are accessed using HTTP GET requests. Queries are returned in XML format. The API allows developers to adjust parameters to change the format of the response string and to return metadata culled from sources such as Wikipedia. Developers who wish to use these APIs must sign up for a key on the True Knowledge API website.

True Knowledge has competition from other semantic search engines providers, such as Powerset and Wolfram Alpha. However, these natural language search solutions either currently lack an API, or are closed to the public, preventing their use in web applications or mashups. It will be interesting to see how True Knowledge's use of an open API will translate into increased market share over rival products. For more good coverage of their service check Paul Miller's report on ZDNet, Anthony Ha at VentureBeat and Simon Mackie at Web Worker Daily.

Be sure to read the next Search article: Wolfram Alpha Opens API, More Features on the Way