Google’s search results have long experimented with providing answers directly in so-called Universal search results, and more recently Knowledge Graph, instead of sending people to other sites to look for that information. It was only natural to use the technology for major world-wide events like the FIFA World Cup, but I was surprised to discover the amount of information displayed. Just last week I searched for the results of the game between USA and Belgium on my iPhone and saw the enhanced card containing basically everything you needed to know about the game: from the final score and the stadium where it was played to the player lineup for both teams, match stats and a detailed timeline of the highlights, and even a short video clip (curiously the image and video link are missing in the desktop search results). It’s an impressive showcase of the technology, but it also highlights some if its limitations: when I entered a similar query, this time using SUA (the Romanian abbreviation) instead of USA, the results were very plain, just a couple of links, far from the rich display presented in the first case. The system should be able to understand that ‘SUA’ and ‘USA’ are the same thing (or at least with very high likelihood) and display a similar summary of the game, especially since Google also owns good translation technology.
While writing this post, I discovered a couple of screenshots of an earlier version of Google’s live football OneBox, from November 2013, shown below for comparison.