Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Interview with Pingar

The organising committee recently caught up with Peter Wren-Hilton, Co-founder & Director, Pingar LP who are a Gold Sponsor of NZCSRSC 2010 for an interview.

NZCSRSC: Who and what is Pingar?

Peter: Pingar is a Tauranga-based Search and Online Publishing company. We have worked closely with The University of Waikato / WaikatoLink and Auckland University of Technology to develop a number of algorithms to add semantic and natural language search into Internet and Enterprise user’s search queries. We have also developed a unique search results platform based around generating instant formatted PDF reports from a user’s search query input.

NZCSRSC: Why should I use Pingar Search instead of other search engines?

Peter: Pingar is search engine agnostic. It adds semantic search capability to any search engine. The same applies to our back-end PDF publishing platform. Pingar launched its Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Search ‘layer’ in Las Vegas in October 2009 and has recently launched its Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Search ‘layer’. Pingar is currently developing ‘layers’ for other proprietary and open source search engines. Our aim is to improve the Enterprise and Internet user’s search experience by enabling them to ‘fine-tune’ their search query as part of their search query process. This improves the quality of the search query results and significantly reduces the time it takes to find the right results.

NZCSRSC: What is natural language search?

Peter: We are moving away from traditional ‘keyword’ search. We want query input strings to have meaning so that they become ‘natural language’ questions rather than just a series of keywords. Pingar’s semantic search algorithms are a step in this direction. They provide context to the user’s initial keyword query input and enable the user to drill down their search query. ‘Pure’ natural language search is not there yet, but it is a path we are rapidly progressing. Eventually, it will go beyond the desktop. Imagine being able to query your mobile phone’s search function with a natural language question and have it return a natural language answer

NZCSRSC: What technologies are behind Pingar Search?

Peter: A combination of technologies lie behind Pingar Search. We are currently working with researchers in the fields of data mining, digital libraries, machine learning and artificial intelligence. A combination of technologies are therefore behind the platforms we are building. Going forward, we are looking to extend this research into areas including improved contextualisation, improved summarisation, improving the mobile UI and making our technology more compatible with non-Latin characters.

NZCSRSC: Where and when can I start using Pingar Search?

Peter: An online demo of Pingar’s core semantic and PDF technology will be available from April via our main corporate site at http://www.pingar.com. We will be launching our Advanced Summarisation algorithm in June at the 2010 Microsoft SharePoint Users Conference in Wellington and demonstrating Pingar’s Chinese language version of our semantic search and PDF platform in Shanghai on July 22nd at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Tauranga-based maybe, but with a real focus on global Internet and Enterprise markets and partnerships.

NZCSRSC: What role does Pingar play in the NZ ICT industry?

Peter: During 2010, Pingar will be announcing the establishment of an Advanced Search and Knowledge Engineering Research centre in Tauranga. This centre will provide research collaboration between Pingar, the University of Waikato, Auckland University of Technology and the University of Wales (UK). We have initiated an exchange of PHD and post doc researchers between NZ / UK. In the UK, they will be placed with Pingar’s UK-based subsidiary, Kaimai Research. The ‘NZ ICT’ aim is to generate both functional and blue sky research in the areas of Advanced Search and Knowledge Engineering to make New Zealand a global centre of excellence in this space. The bigger vision is for New Zealanders to understand the real depth of knowledge and talent that we have in our universities and that as a country we need to provide world leading research positions to make New Zealand an attractive home and destination for global scientific research talent.

NZCSRSC: Are there any employment or internship opportunities at Pingar?

Peter: Yes! Pingar is seeking to increase its internal research teams with exceptional people. We are aiming not simply to build a great company, but provide global research opportunities right here in NZ We are working with our University partners, Tech NZ and the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology (FRST) to identify the best candidates to make Pingar and New Zealand a global leader in this space. You do not have to have been to either the University of Waikato or Auckland University of Technology to apply. We are keen to engage with leading candidates in any NZ University or research institute. To register your interest in either employment or internship opportunities with Pingar, simply email your CV to jobs@pingar.com or meet us at our stand at the Careers Industry Night on Wednesday 14 April at NZCSRSC 2010.

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