NZ firm claims browser breakthrough

Patent awarded for technology in pageQ browser

A New Zealand software developer is doing its bit to reignite the browser wars by developing a browser alternative called pageQ.

The US Patent Office has awarded the firm, Aspiring Software, a patent for the technology.

The pageQ browser allows surfers to create, annotate and modify a playlist of web pages. The playlists can be shared via email or posted on a website.

PageQ consists of a browser window, a web page playlist and a player toolbar. The toolbar contains media player controls (play, pause, next, previous, ff, rewind) and a "camera icon" to capture pages to the playlist.

PageQ designer, John Blennerhassett says he and his small team came up with the idea for pageQ in 2004. They wrote the software and delivered it online as shareware on a standard model, with a free version and a paid-for business version.

Around 500 downloads are made a month, but the trio behind the browser are now preparing to give it a further push, with the development of communities and online queue (or as they cal them, "Q") libraries, akin to social bookmarking services such as Digg and Delicious.

"The ease of sharing Qs, revisiting and improving existing Qs and the potential of creating a community of Q users is most exciting," he says. "A shared repository of Qs with a ‘Q Search Engine’ that returns ‘best of’ playlists of web pages in a Q has got to be better than the static, web-bot generated results from contemporary search engines."

Blennerhassett says the simple concept has "huge applications" as it means people don't have to go through their histories to find pages.

The queue function allows users to go back, update, send pages and save the queue to a flash card to make it transportable.

He says patent protection was important as it will help prevent software giants from copying thebrowser's unique functions.

Blennerhassett also acknowledges assistance received from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise for the project.

“The application is a cool web tool that lets you play a slideshow of selected web pages," Blennerhassett says, describing it as "like iTunes, but for web pages".

Aspiring Software director Alistair Munro says gaining a US patent had been part of the company's strategy since day one.

"We want to partner with an internet company that has the reach and reputation to create a ‘Q community’ that will share Qs. The obvious candidates are search engine providers, browsers and web community sites. Having patented intellectual property certainly mitigates risk for the innovator and creator of a shared Q repository," he says.

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