Kartoo is a meta search engine (see gallery) that is interesting from a user interface perspective. The search is so-so, but the presentation is worth noting. I've been trying it for a couple days as I explore life without Google. I rotated Kartoo with Ask and Live Search. Overall, Kartoo does inspire me to find some new interfaces. It's just a little hard to use it repeatedly.
Kartoo uses the FlashPlayer to create visual results. Each result has an icon that has meaning--Word doc, recently updated, multiple pages and so forth. Hover over an icon and you can see the threads of your search and why the result appears.
In a nutshell, Kartoo gives you a map of search results. It takes some getting used to--as does the mascot that's everywhere--but it does make you think about search a little differently.
Now I wouldn't use Kartoo as my sole search. It's just too jarring and once you navigate to an image search it plops you onto Yahoo.
However, I'd reckon that visual search is something that the search giants should think about a lot more. Eventually, we're going to get sick of blue text links. What's next?
While Kartoo's interface had its issues--the next map icon to get more results was buried for instance--the search engine may be on to something. By using Flash saving searches and viewing your history felt like being inside an application. From the user perspective that approach is very different than the standard sea of links you get today.