Weekend Gadget Guidance: Shop for online gadgets by sliding

Since Toybox readers are always in the market for a shiny new toy, this service might make the online shopping experience a little easier.AnswerOil is an attempt to improve the gadget-buying process with a slider-based search system.

AnswerOil (detail)
Since Toybox readers are always in the market for a shiny new toy, this service might make the online shopping experience a little easier. AnswerOil is an attempt to improve the gadget-buying process with a slider-based search system. What does that mean, exactly? Begin by selecting a category — cameras, laptops, any gadget with multiple attributes, really — and then choose a preset number of characteristics — say, megapixels, processors, memory, color or size. By moving the sliders, you in effect prioritize and give weight to certain attributes: for example, giving up a few megabytes of RAM for more processor speed. It's basically the same thing you do in your head when you flip through a catalog. All of the changes are performed dynamically, allowing better matches to rise to the top of the list and others to fall in ranking. There is a complete demo here which really shows the sliders in action:
AnswerOil Demo
It's very intuitive. By choosing a few product attributes, you can browse through a fair number of devices until you find "the one." In fact, AnswerOil reports that people who use the service and have just purchased a camera or laptop by research alone usually end up finding exactly the device they recently bought using the sliders. In addition, the service helps online stores with feedback and data collection. By knowing exactly what customers were looking for (”a blue laptop with 2.2-GHz processor with a 15-inch screen”) they can later aggregate the information and target a particular demographic. The U.K.-based company is said to be working with clients in the U.K. and central Europe to roll out the search in some of the largest European e-commerce sites, but have yet to make much headway in the U.S. Still, it's an interesting system that looks like it could make waves on these (digital) shores. What do you think? Would this be useful to you? Or does it seem more appropriate for the rest of the not-as-tech-savvy family? Tell us in TalkBack.