- A Kerala University has launched a new search engine called vilokana.in for medical researchers.
- Researchers type a keyword to access relevant information on the topic.
- The special search engine can be a boon for the medical researchers in this age of “infodemic”.
Faculty and students of artificial intelligence from the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management in Kerala have launched a new search engine for COVID-19 medical researchers. The engine is called vilokana.in which means "finding out" in Sanksrit.
Though there are dozens of apps in the country that provide information on the coronavirus, the search engine is a first dedicated toward the medical community in India. The idea is that through this search engine scientists, doctors and researchers who are racing to better understand Covid-19 and the novel coronavirus will be able to keep a track of the latest research about the disease and the pandemic it has caused.
Professor Alex James, who worked on the search engine, says that his team undertook an AI-first approach to list articles and journals that would be most relevant to someone looking up information by typing in a keyword on the search engine.
The search engine is different from Google because the researcher will also have access to a quick summary of the article at hand. The purpose, Professor Alex James says, is to accelerate the process of research by giving easy access to a wide range of information to those who're working in the field.
Professor James added they are adding a feature to detect fake information. Recently, Bill Gates, in his piece on the Economist, stressed that medical researchers are going to be among the most important people in the coming year.
But the idea of research engine or a sort of aggregator for Covid-19 related news is not new in itself.
Given that this pandemic comes at a time when information flows easily and cutting-edge technologies are available, since January when the world became aware of the coronavirus, scientists and researchers have raced to understand it. Every day there are tens of academic articles and research papers on Covid-19 that are coming online, and there are search engines, micro-sites and even communities on Reddit that are helping scientists keep track of this information. At the same time, organisations like WHO have created dedicated tech tools that let scientists and doctors track the latest research on Covid-19.
But most of these efforts have a global focus, and that is where the search engine launched by Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management may help because it is also likely to feature information on a lot of India-specific Covid-19 research.