CMU alumni create EnFind to help online consumers

Credit: Courtesy of Richard Wang Credit: Courtesy of Richard Wang

The Language Technologies Institute has recently produced several alumni who have implemented natural language processing and machine learning applications that benefit both online content providers and consumers.

Language technologies doctoral candidates Richard Wang and Frank Lin, along with alumni Tarik Raed (SCS ’11), and Brad Barbin (TSB ’11) have launched EnFind, which is powered by technology developed at the Language Technologies Institute. According to Barbin, EnFind is a search engine committed to “making the Web a better place.”

EnFind, Raed explains, “provides readers with an opportunity to learn, view related articles, and make purchases — all from one article ... and all completely free.”

While perusing the Internet, many consumers are easily sidetracked by curiosities that a particular article inspires. Users may leave a given site to investigate these interests and make purchases elsewhere — purchases motivated by the original article. Because of this tendency, content providers are losing out on revenue and consumers are subject to a more sporadic and directionless user experience.

EnFind aims to solve this problem, for both the content provider and consumer. Raed explained, “A content provider wants their reader to be engaged in an article — but ultimately monetizes the engagement through recirculation and should look to optimize this.”

Defined by its founders as a “search engine with no web crawler,” EnFind allows readers to enjoy the information of the Internet without ever leaving the article of initial interest. In order to properly credit initial sites, EnFind places an ID on the consumer so that initial sites can receive “affiliate credit” for future purchases.

So far, EnFind has seen tremendous success. Current data shows a 2 percent increase in articles read by consumers and 25 percent increase in advertisements viewed. EnFind’s technology has recently been implemented in a trial run for the sports section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. After the successful trial, Raed and Barbin expect EnFind to be implemented across the Post-Gazette’s site by the end of the year.

In light of their recent successes, Raed and Barbin reflect on their formative experiences at Carnegie Mellon. Both are thankful for the inspiring stories of alumni and the opportunities to work with Ph.D. students during their time as undergraduates. In the same vein, Raed and Barbin encourage undergraduates to chase their own unique entrepreneurial visions.