Ask Jeeves, a search engine launched over a decade ago drew its name from the fictional character, Jeeves, in P.G.Wodehouse's books who was a gentleman's personal gentleman guaranteed to provide answers to any question asked. While Ask Jeeves or Ask as it is known outside the UK languishes as a search engine, a tech start up, Siri, has come up with an app for the iPhone that "allows users to speak or write natural-language requests into the device" that caters to a variety of personal needs from restaurant requests to other location based information needs such as information on movies at neighborhood theaters.
Siri is touted as a "virtual personal assistant" with software that uses natural language processing and semantic analysis to know people's interests
and needs thereby helping them find personally useful things for them on the Internet. The genie like app makes use of GPS that is de-rigueur in smartphones and cloud
computing systems to satisfy personal needs. Artificial intelligence
software enhances that process by enabling the smartphone to be taught not only what one might expect of it but also to anticipate one's needs.
For now, the app works with specific sites such as Opentable for restaurant requests and Google to deliver on other information so, Siri, is not really a search engine but one that makes use of resources available on the internet. It is a question of time before Siri incorporates a hotel search function using one of many OTAs or Google to do so. Potential hotel guests can then merely "ask" their iPhone to point them to the nearest hotel room based on their location and even include parameters such as star ratings in the request.