Customised launch pad offered for Net exploration

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 November, 1997, 12:00am

Comdex may be a PC show and the forum for lots of new hardware and software, but the Internet increasingly has come to take centre stage.

So it should not be surprising that many companies were demonstrating new Internet content at the show including Philips, which this year launched PlanetSearch (, a series of Web sites designed to provide focused content in areas of shared interest.

PlanetSearch general manager Steve Leventhal, at the Philips Multimedia Centre, said it was designed to provide individually tailored launch pads to the Internet.

PlanetSearch combines tools such as search engines and customised information content.

A general site and multiple vertical market sites are planned, with the first, PlanetK-12 (, aimed at primary and secondary school teachers.

PlanetK-12 fed into PlanetSearch via cross-links and was 'far more comprehensive than any other information site', Mr Leventhal said.

'The objective is to be an objective, comprehensive site for educators and of course to benefit Philips.' There is no charge for accessing the PlanetSearch family of sites.

The PlanetK-12 site includes a Teachers' Lounge, a forum for communication via a bulletin board system; Curriculum Corner, a resource of lesson plans, instructional projects and educational materials organised by subject and level; and a Research Desk, offering support tools for teachers' research.

The site offers numerous other components including career information and resources; an on-line store offering software and book titles for education; information on standards, policies and government initiatives; and product reviews.

A student activities area on the site provides resources and activities for students including college preparation courses, and teachers can create custom-made views of PlanetK-12 for purposes such as classroom exercises and collaboration with colleagues.

PlanetK-12 also offers daily news from Reuters NewMedia, financial information from Reality Online and access to the WhoWhere? directory and the GTE SuperPages to provide access to Internet searches.

Mr Leventhal said that combined with Philips technology such as set-top boxes, it should be possible to deploy PlanetSearch - and PlanetK-12 - into schools across the United States and eventually worldwide.

Although initial efforts obviously are focused on the US market - which is a fairly cohesive educational environment - Mr Leventhal said there was definite interest in bringing localised content to markets such as China and Japan, although it was too early to speculate on definite plans and dates.