There is an article on Search Engine Watch that talks about the research going on in major search engine labs. Below is what each search engine lab is focusing on:
Microsoft adCenter Labs
- Paid search
- Contextual ads
- Behavioral targeting
- Emerging markets
- How to know what to believe
- Trust models online and propagation
- What makes communities thrive and wither
- Tagging images and videos, and sharing these file types
- Image processing
- Fact extraction
- Statistical machine translation
Out of all the above, the only one that gets me excited is Google Lab’s image processing. I’ve always thought that the tagging mechanism currently used for searching for an image (or video, or other media types) is only a temporary solution. The real end goal is to be able to search an image based on what the image looks like (show me pictures that look very similar to this image). The same thing with goes with video (based on what’s said) and audio (based on what’s said and the action).
There are several companies working on voice recognition and image mapping. One or two of them will make it big.