Release Date: April 5, 2007
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University of Regina computer scientists win Award of Innovation for research that improves Internet searches
Two University of Regina computer scientists are the recipients of the 2007 Innovation Award for their continuing work to improve the process of conducting Internet searches. The award was presented to Dr Xue-Dong Yang and Orland Hoeber at the Regina Chamber of Commerce’s Paragon Awards banquet on April 4.

Yang and Hoeber won the award for their HotMap™ and WordBars web search interface software prototype systems which use interactive visualization to allow computer users to take a more active role in the Internet search process.

Hoeber, a PhD candidate at the U of R, explains more about the software.

“These prototype systems represent instances of next-generation Web search systems,” Hoeber says. “They allow for interactive web searches that display results in a graphical, abstract style of presentation. They are general purpose interfaces, providing an intuitive way to search the Internet. They are easy to learn, and provide methods for visually exploring search results.”

The technology may also have other uses, according to Yang, who is Hoeber’s PhD supervisor.

“Our work on the HotMap™ and WordBars web search software has the potential to make Internet searching more productive in the future,” Yang says. “At the same time, these technologies can be applied to searching within other domains and databases, and will soon touch each of us in our daily pursuit of information.”

Patents and trademarks have been filed to protect the intellectual property associated with this research, and plans are currently underway for the creation of a public Internet search engine based on the prototype systems. Software developers are going to be hired to support product development, and Yang and Hoeber are investigating other funding sources.

The University of Regina’s University-Industry Liaison Office (UILO) is actively negotiating several commercialization opportunities for this research.

“There is a spirit of innovation implicit within the University of Regina and the recently announced SpringBoard West Innovations Inc. at Innovation Place, Regina,” says Ian Bailey, Director of the UILO. “Scientific minds at the U of R are working to better society through development of new technologies, and Dr Yang and Mr Hoeber exemplify this spirit.”

Ken Loeppky, the general manager of Innovation Place – Regina, agrees.

“The Award of Innovation was created by Innovation Place – Regina and the University of Regina to reward and promote the efforts of researchers involved in the commercialization of research,” Loeppky says. “At the same time, it recognizes their commitment to bettering society – sometimes in major, fundamental ways, other times in smaller, more incremental steps. Dr Yang and Mr Hoeber certainly deserve this recognition from the research and development community.”

The Award of Innovation is an annual competition administered through the University-Industry Liaison Office, and sponsored by Innovation Place – Regina. It recognizes faculty members, staff or students of the University of Regina for research work characterized by intellectual achievement, uniqueness and originality. Submissions must be based on innovative or potentially commercializable technology from their research program or laboratory. Criteria also include the stage of development and degree of commercialization, and the potential economic and social benefits to Saskatchewan or society in general. The Award of Innovation includes a monetary award, a trophy, and a photo on the Award of Innovation Wall at Innovation Place – Regina.

Mr. Hoeber will be defending his dissertation in April 2007, and Dr. Yang will be assuming the role of Head of the Department of Computer Science at the U of R in July 2007. Both will remain actively involved in the commercialization of this research.