A locally developed software tool is set to cut through the mass of Chinese-language news content available on the Web. InfoBeam, from Hong Kong-based developer J-Solutions, is designed to facilitate the search for articles of interest to users and save them the trouble of roaming numerous websites. J-Solutions director Hingnin Lui described the software as an 'information catcher'. Launched last week, InfoBeam collects and summarises information from various online sources. The software uses artificial intelligence to retrieve articles on specific subjects, and creates an abstract summary of the article. The software is available only in Chinese at present, and is pre-configured to search eight Hong Kong news websites. End users can add sources to allow a search of up to 14 websites. Mr Lui says the only limits on the type of sites that can be searched are that they must be in Chinese, and be free sites that do not require a password. As well as searching for text, the software can be used to search for image files on the Web. The company claims the image search function is more effective than a search engine because it searches the text accompanying the photo for specific keywords. This way, even if an image file has a name such as 001.jpg, the software can alert you that it may be relevant. Users can carry the abstracts of their searches around with them on a handheld or a WAP-enabled mobile phone. Mr Lui said the company saw Hong Kong as a test centre for InfoBeam and that it planned to develop different versions tailored for markets in Greater China. He said Hong Kong made a good testing ground because residents were keen to try new things. He added that the presence of a large number of newspapers in Hong Kong made the software especially useful. J-Solutions is working on versions of the software for Taiwan and Macau and countries with a large Chinese-speaking population, such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and parts of Canada. Meanwhile, InfoBeam users in Hong Kong can use the software to search Chinese-language sites in these countries. Mr Lui said J-Solutions had no plans to develop an English-language version of the system because several overseas companies were working on similar services. J-Solutions is an offspring of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks. The company develops information retrieval and abstract artificial intelligence engines in-house.