Qwiki: A New Kind of Information Experience

Almost all of us begin our day online with a search, most likely in Google, for something specific or a closest possible keyword and took it from there. This is more like a rinse and repeat process that happens multiple times a day (or hour, depending upon your profession). Do you get relevant results? Yes. Are you overwhelmed by the volume of information you have to process before finding what you are looking for? Absolutely!

While a lot of startups try to fine tune the search results in their quest to get a share of big advertising bucks, there’s hardly any innovation in the way search results are displayed. Google does a great a job from time to time, tweaking the search results page, adding real-time streams, search previews etc. Still, nobody has nailed the presentation like Qwiki has. Follow me after the jump to get a glimpse of the innovative information experience.

Overview

Qwiki’s goal is to forever improve the way people experience information. Qwiki offers a brand new way to consume information: text, audio, video, and images fused together in a gorgeous and streamlined interface. The final search results will look more like a slideshow or a movie reel with all the relevant information related to the keyword you have searched for.

Overview

Overview

Instead of throwing up a bunch of links with a few words of description or a monotonous page with thousands of words of text, Qwiki captures your attention and engages you with an interactive storyline. Qwiki is in private alpha and you’ll have to submit your email address to get an invitation. Qwiki is free to use.

How it Works

Qwiki doesn’t create information on its own but curates them in a streamlined manner. So if you’re performing a search on a city for a trip, gadget or person, Qwiki puts together information available in the public domain and social networking sites for the users to consume. Qwiki has millions of curated topics in their database. The web app focuses a lot on visuals, partly on audio and less on textual content.

Welcome Screen

Welcome Screen

Searching for information you’re looking for happens in the usual way-typing into a search box. Once you execute a search, be it a topic or person, Qwiki displays a slide with all the key things you have to know about the keyword. To enhance the experience, Qwiki also narrates those points to you as and when the slides appear for better understanding. Consider this like a short documentary on the topic of your interest if you will.

The Qwiki

Search In Progress

Search In Progress

After entering the keyword, Qwiki takes a few seconds to put together the slideshow for you. A status page with a note saying that this is a rough draft and your feedback will help improve acts as a place holder in the mean time. Without much ado, the results page shows up and starts playing immediately. The results are nothing like we have seen before-no blue links or endless lines of text. We are shown blocks of images and video arranged in a rectangular frame.

The Slideshow

The Slideshow

When the narration moves from one block to another, the focus is shifted and the content is prominently displayed. Without a need for any input from the user, videos associated with the results will start playing. In addition to the audio overlay, a transcript scrolls at the bottom of the slide and is in sync with the narration.

Qwiki Controls

The Controller

The Controller

You can control the Qwiki with the controller hidden by random color strips. This adds to the already beautiful aesthetics of the web app. Just like in a regular video player, you have standard controls like play, pause, mute, skip across the timeline etc. You can also share the Qwiki with your friends using the share icon.

Accessing Related Topics

Realted Qwikis

Realted Qwikis

The web app excels in displaying Qwikis of the related topics. All related topics mentioned in the narration of the initial search keyword are shown and you can access them in a single click. If you are someone who like to explore Wikipedia by clicking on the links available in a page, you will know that this is such a great way to kill some time usefully. Links to external sources like Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube and Google are also available for further research.

Comments & Feedback

Comments & Feedback

Finally, if you are satisfied with the Qwiki, you have the option to rate it. There is also an option to comment on the Qwiki for improving the content and to let the Qwiki team know if you will be sharing it with your friends.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that Qwiki is a cool web app. However there are a couple of shortcomings to the app-both of them are related to the audio overlay. First, the narration begins instantaneously and it takes while to find the pause/mute button as it’s hidden behind the beautifully designed color coded bars. Audio playback begins with the slideshow and it would be better to inform the user beforehand regarding the same to avoid some embarrassing moments.

Second, the text displayed beneath the slide scrolls pretty fast to keep up with the narrator. This hampers the experience for people who don’t have their speakers turned on or don’t want to listen to the audio at all. Also, the information available on a lot of topics is not comprehensive and barely skims the surface. It’s more like a trailer reel to get interested on the topic in question and continue your quest for more information from sources like Wikipedia or Google. At the very least, information from one source should be covered in full for keeping the information complete.

If you have a tough time deciding on whether to dive deep into a topic or cannot decide if suits your interests, Qwiki is the perfect destination to brush the surface without having to waste a lot of time.


Summary

Qwiki offers a brand new way to consume information: text, audio, video, and images fused together in a gorgeous and streamlined interface.

  • Qwiki  | 
  • Free  | 
  • Qwiki
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