At our ReadWrite Real-Time Web Summit in Mountain View last week, we came across Stinky Teddy, a new real-time meta-search engine developed by David Hardtke. Before starting this project, Hradtke worked as a physicist at the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Lab. Hardtke named his new project after his daughter's "trusted (and abused) stuffed bear." Stinky Teddy, which Hardtke describes as "real-time gossip powered metasearch," combines search results from Bing, Yahoo, VideoSurf, Twitter and Collecta and reshuffles the search results to focus on topics that are trending right now.

Before the rise of Google, meta-search engines like Dogpile and MetaCrawler were pretty popular, though no meta-search engines have been able to garner any market-share since. Stinky Teddy's odd name probably won't help the company in the long run, but this search engine reinvents meta-search for the real-time web. The assumption behind Stinky Teddy is that searchers are probably interested in the topics that are buzzing right now. Stinky Teddy gathers search results from multiple sources and then uses real-time trends as a signal to rearrange results according to what it decides is most relevant at that moment.

In our tests, Stinky Teddy performed pretty well, especially when we searched for politicians and celebrities. The only real disappointment was that the videos from Videosurf - which we like a lot as a video search engine - were often rather old. Sometimes, old search results also slipped into the news search. You can, however, filter results according to the type of source, so that Stinky Teddy displays only items from news sources, for example, or from real-time sources like Collecta and Twitter.

Bridging the Gap With Meta-Search

We have seen quite a few real-time search engines like OneRiot, Faroo, and Collecta recently, but it seems that every time the search engine market hits on a new concept, meta-search engines like Stinky Teddy come in to bridge the gap between existing products and the new generation of search engines.

In its current state, Stinky Teddy is definitely worth a look. It's still in its early days, and Hardtke is still actively tweaking the algorithms in the background; but the variety of sources make it a worthwhile alternative to other real-time search engines.