No, Boxfish's in-the-beta-stage search engine does not scour the net, looking for online versions of television shows you're waiting to see. That would be illegal or something. Instead, what it does is show users how many times their search query has been mentioned on television.
It should be noted the television search engine is apparently new to Google as well. A simple search for the keyphrase "boxfish search engine" does not include beta-stage search engine, at least on the first page of the results. There is, however, a link to their LinkedIn page, which is something, I suppose.
As for the service itself, when a query is entered, the results page features various shows that have mentioned the phrase. Once clicked, users are given something of a transcript to read. As an example, I searched the term "Hunger Games" and just about every morning news program in America is talking about the movie. In fact, according to Boxfish's results, which can be refined to include the last 24 hours (default), or expanded out to a week or a month. There's also something of a graph, giving users an idea just how popular the phrase they are searching for really is:
As you can see, in the last 24 hours, there have been over 500 mentions of the phrase "Hunger Games" across 16 channels. The question is, what can a service like Boxfish provide potential users, besides novelty? Over at BetaKit.com, Boxfish co-founder Eoin Dowling explains his vision:
“We believe that there’s another internet that isn’t being captured, and it’s in real-time. Right now we’re sitting here and there’s hundreds of TV channels broadcasting relevant information right now, and it’s not accessible online... We ultimately want to use this technology as a layer of discovery between television and the internet.”
As far as the technology involved in populating their search engine index, Dowling remains fairly tight-lipped, saying there are patents still pending related to their service, but he did offer this vague explanation:
In the most basic sense, we have TV aerials plugged into the back of a lot of servers in the U.S., the UK and Ireland, we take the TV stream and split it so that we pull the relevant info and process the signal in real time, building a text stream from TV that we make searchable...
No word on how the transcription process is handled, but one can imagine it being related to the pending patents.
Does Boxfish sound like something useful to you? Or will it be an incomplete service as long as results are presented in a text/transcript format?
Lead image courtesy of a Poltergeist screenshot.