Trap.it is a new personalized search app that originally came out of a $200 million DARPA artificial intelligence project called CALO or Cognitive Assistant That Learns and Organizes. It’s a sister company of SIRI, the online “concierge” that was acquired by Apple last year. The app aims to take personalized search to new heights — and depths — to become your “Pandora for content” and deliver content that’s tailored to your interests.
After signing up (free), you can start creating your “traps” for content, based on a keyword, or series of keywords, or URL. Trap.it’s AI goes to work immediately, prompting you first to give a thumbs up or thumbs reaction to the content it initially delivers from over 50,000 original content sources on the Internet. By the fifth or sixth time you give input on the content you see, the software goes to work, refining the search results to fill your trap. You’re essentially training Trap.it to understand what you need and want.
Trap.it refines each of your traps based on both your explicit input and implicit actions, such as content you delete, to deliver the most relevant content based on your needs and tastes. You can set up as many traps as you’d like, based on everything from broad categories to extremely niche and specific information. Each trap contains a rich ontology that is unique to you, not a rehash of search results culled from other people.
You can consume your traps in three main ways:
- A tile view where each article found is presented within a “cube” with an image and either summary text or a short excerpt of the content.
- A list view that will be more familiar to you if you like to consume RSS feeds in a reader;
- A page-by-page view where you can click on left or right arrows placed on either side of an article you’ve accessed to allow browsing of your trap content.
At the top of each article is the Trap.it navigation, where you can give thumbs up or down as well as save the article using the Read Later button which creates a reading list in a similar manner to Instapaper. Each trap you create can be shared publicly on Twitter or Facebook as well as shared privately by emailing a short URL generated automatically by the site.
Trap.it has worked hard to make the site and the presentation of content approachable and deceptively simple, but the technology behind the interface is sophisticated, robust and scalable.
From a work standpoint, Trap.it can distill and filter vast amounts of content produced daily on the Web into a highly targeted and constantly refined set of traps that you can access any time so you don’t just get the same old articles and posts you see retweeted in your Twitterstream. The folks at Trap.it hope you use their site for more than just professional work or research but for personal passions as well, from gardening to cooking to travel.
You can set up an account with Trap.it using Facebook Connect or Twitter OAuth, or manually by using this invite link (good for 500 new users).