Hopper, a full-text search engine for travel, is now in early alpha testing for its new natural-language-based search technology. The company is the brainchild of Frederic Lalonde and Joost Ouwerkerk; Lalonde is also the chairman of Tnooz. The developers working on the project are former Expedia geeks, and the tool they are trying to create may revolutionize the way people use online travel technology.
The current formula that common travel sites use is to give you a form, even a brief one, and ask you to fill in your current city, desired destination, departure time, and return time. These web applications then retrieve the relevant data based on your form choices. These results may include hotels and other information, but it is all based on that very restrictive method of the initial form.
Hopper intends to produce a web application that will give you much more flexibility. You can simply type in your destination with as little as a single word: the name. Search results will return information about the destination, flights, fares, and more, all without having to make up departure and return dates when you might just be in an exploratory stage.
Hopper will allow users to type in natural language queries like “running of the bulls” and receive flight, hotel, rental car, and other information about those specific queries. Eventually, rather than retrieving information about a trip you want to take to Argentina on a specific date, time, and departure location, you can search for the the lowest fares to Argentina when it will be “warm and sunny”.
To accommodate the massive amounts of data the service will require, Hopper is currently building a huge infrastructure that will power the application. It is currently in the alpha testing stage, and users interested in giving it a try can receive an invitation by following Hopper on Twitter or Facebook.
Original Source: Tnooz