Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Sunday, 15 March 2009

Four pioneering web innovations


UK firms fly flag at tech show

By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, Texas

UK web firms are out in force at South by South West Interactive, hoping to raise their profile, find new investment and new partners. Here are four companies flying the flag for UK digital innovation.


The Filter is a recommendation engine that can be used to find music and video that directly relates to the types of content you enjoy most of all.

See how The Filter works

The technology that powers The Filter looks for patterns in the music and video you consume in order to find other types of content that is similar or related.

From albums and movies to music videos and entertainment news, the more you use The Filter the more sophisticated the recommendations become.

The company has a destination website which is used to showcase its technology, and it also licenses its recommendation engine to third-party firms such as Nokia


Ensembli is a recommendation engine website specifically for news which is designed to take the pain out of finding news stories you want to believe.

News stories particular to you

The website is designed for mainstream audiences and aims to be as simple as possible to use, and is targeted at people who struggle with or are put off using RSS readers, aggregators or alert systems.

The more you read, discard, or ignore stories that Ensembli finds for you, the more accurate it will become in finding those stories you really want to read.

Ensembli starts with a simple prompt to think of a category or topic of news you are interested in and from there begins to develop a picture of your interests in news.

However, the website did seem to return a mixed set of results for some topics, with old and very new stories mixed together and presented as fresh content.

Mixcloud, the 'YouTube of radio'

Mixcloud describes itself as the YouTube of radio. It is a website to help simplify the sharing and listening to DJ sets, radio programmes and podcasts.

Listeners can find music in the genres they prefer and explore featured music while content creators can upload and share their work to find new listens. It features a familiar web 2.0 design and feel, and a simple-to-use browser-based music player.

The website is in invite-only beta stage at the moment and the amount of content on the site is quite limited right now.

Infurious Comics
The interface is familiar to iPhone users

The iPhone is very popular for developers at the moment because it has grown a sizeable audience very quickly while Apple has provided a set of tools for companies to build applications, as well as taken the hassle out of distribution by also launching an App Store.

Infurious developed a Comic Reader application that uses the iPhone's familiar touch interface to navigate between different panes of a comic.

The Comics Engine can also layer audio on to comic pages, embed movies and links to YouTube.

The reader also features multi-layered content pages so readers can find bonus artwork, footnotes and explainers.

The application was developed by Phil Orr and designed by 2000AD comic artist PJ Holden.

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