ConQuest catches Motorola's attentionConQuest Software...


November 01, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

ConQuest catches Motorola's attention

ConQuest Software Inc., a 4-year-old Columbia company that produces a full-text search and retrieval system, has caught the financial interest of a subsidiary of giant Motorola Inc.

The recent investment will lead to ConQuest's software being incorporated into several of INFO Enterprises Inc.'s on-line information services.

Unlike many other search packages, which rely strictly on finding documents containing specific words, ConQuest's approach involves drawing on a "semantic network" -- 335,000 terms drawn from dictionaries, thesauri and other reference sources, all tied together by 3 million word links.

As a result, users can either search for a simple term, or scan a list of definitions and highlight the particular context they're interested in. For example, a search for "stock" can be linked to high finance or gourmet cooking.

ConQuest then looks at a range of factors, such as how often key concepts appear and where they are in a document, to rank its results.

The company's founders, Edwin R. Addison and Paul Nelson, had both worked on radar engineering for Westinghouse Electric Corp.

With some funding from the Air Force, they later took the idea of extracting essential information from a noisy background and applied it to text rather than targeting.

William F. Gillis, INFO Enterprises' president, said in a statement that his company made its choice only after "an exhaustive technical and competitive evaluation of the ConQuest search engine."

The current ConQuest software, written for a wide range of computers, was introduced in April; it's sold only to large customers and developers. They've already snared several major accounts, including Physicians' Online, a medical information network now under development, and the Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, N.J.

CellularONE adds tunnel cells

The tunnels have been tamed.

CellularONE announced last week that it's added "micro cells" to both the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and the Fort McHenry Tunnel, ensuring that calls won't be cut off or scrambled. It also added a cell at the USAir Arena in Landover.

A local dealer for competitor Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems noted tTC that the network has had coverage in the tunnels for more than two years.

It doesn't have a special cell in the arena, but has added them around the area, in sites like major hospitals and the convention center in Washington.

Cellular systems use micro cells both to ensure a clear signal in hard-to-reach areas (particularly for low-power pocket phones), and to handle heavy traffic in one spot, thus preventing a larger area from getting clogged.

Hughes gets deal for mobile services

Hughes Network Systems of Germantown chalked up a victory last week when it was picked by Bell Atlantic Mobile to provide mobile data services in Pittsburgh.

Bell's choice of Hughes' cellular digital packet data system means it won't have to install separate digital equipment, because the Hughes scheme works with existing analog networks.

The new system will be welcomed by "road warriors" who travel with laptop computers or "personal digital assistants" such as Apple Computer Inc.'s Newton.

Bell was to start testing last week, and plans to start selling the service early next year.

Microchip market outlook is bright

The world market for semiconductors is expected to exceed $100 billion in 1996, according to a forecast released last week by the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Semiconductors include various parts such as integrated circuits and transistors that are found in products ranging from supercomputers to talking toys.

The SIA projected 29 percent growth, to $77.3 billion, in the world market this year, primarily fueled by strong demand for personal computers. A third of that total will be sold in North America.

By region, the strongest sales are expected to be in the Asia-Pacific market, which includes, among other countries, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. There, sales are expected to reach $21.4 billion of the $103.4 billion total by 1996.

Microlog expands line of voice processors

Germantown's Microlog Corp. expanded its CallStar line of voice processing systems last week with the CallStar 1200, designed for small to medium-size companies.

The new system will handle from two to 16 ports, with a standard 18 hours of storage for voice mail and automated attendant messages. Early next year, it will be expanded with networking and fax capability.

Earlier last week, Microlog announced that Randall R. Pfeiffer had been named as its vice president of engineering.

Mr. Pfeiffer was the co-founder of Genesis Electronics, which was purchased by Microlog in 1990. After the sale he spent three years with VOICEsoft Corp., a software development company.

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