Mayer: Translation, universal search in Google's future

Google VP says one day users will be able to search all the Web pages in every language to return the best results

Universal search and automated translation are big parts of Google's future, a company executive said Friday in Beijing.

Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president, search products and user experience, said Google had invested in automatic translation as a way to improve search results across various languages. "CLIR (cross language information retrieval) is better if we can search all the Web pages in every language and return the best search results," she said at a Google "product salon" in the Chinese capital.

Mayer said it is particularly advantageous for native readers of languages that have only a small representation on the World Wide Web. "Only one percent of the content on the Web is written in Arabic. With this kind of technology ... if you can imagine us taking that query in Arabic and translating into other languages, it really increases the breadth of the results."

She referred to it as "a counter-intuitive advance in search."

Mayer said that Google is just getting started with universal search, which allows users to conduct searches across different media, including text, video, images, and audio. Using speech-to-text technology, users could eventually search a piece of video for phrases and keywords without having to view it.

She also said that Google was moving towards integrating all of its different search engines, including its Google Book Search and Google Patent Search, to produce comprehensive results for the same search.

Mayer admitted that bringing such total results to the end user was not going to happen overnight. "We're just getting started with universal search, there are a lot of issues to overcome here."

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.