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RealTime IT News

A Word-Wise Firefox Extension

The Hyperwords Company has just launched a free add-on to the Firefox browser that brings hyperlinks to any word on the Web.

"This isn't just limited to word definitions," Hyperwords CEO Frode Hegland told internetnews.com. "We let you interact with words in any number of ways. The user decides."

With Hyperwords loaded, you simply highlight any word by double-clicking and nine different options appear: Search, Reference, Map, Shop, Copy, Email, Tag, Blog, and Translate. Hyperwords is a free download at the company's Web site.

You can also do useful things with whole sections of text. For example, highlight several paragraphs click on "Email" and "Immediately" and the highlighted text is copied to a new e-mail message ready to be sent.

That's pretty handy, but here's something way slicker. Highlight a word and you have the option to have the word or the entire page translated to another language in a new window that opens in a few seconds.

English, German, French, Italian, Portugese, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese translations are available.

"We don't own any of the data, but we provide a means for you to interact with the data," said Hegland.

The language translation capability comes from freetranslation.com; search options include Google, Yahoo, Alexa and Clusty; the Reference links takes you to Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, IMBd (Internet Movie Database), and so on.

Hegland said Hyperwords has a patent pending on its system, which has been developed over the course of two years at the University College London. A few angel investors are helping the startup, but Hegland admits he hasn't sorted out how to make money off of it.

"We're testing various business models but we don't know yet," he said. "One direction might be to offer special or professional versions for corporate customers."

Hegland credits head coder Mikhail Seliverstov for much of the work in implementing the hypertext ideas in the Hyperwords system.

Hegland said Hyperwords started with the Firefox browser because it seems to be more readily extensible than Internet Explorer.

"Also, Firefox users seem more ready to try new things."

He said a version of Hyperwords for Internet Explorer is planned for this year.

In addition to Hegland and cofounder Patricia Fessler, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company boasts an impressive advisory board:

Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the first computer mouse; Vint Cerf, one of the co-authors of TCP/IP (the technical foundation of the Internet); Bruce Horn, the author of the original Finder (the Macintosh's first "desktop"); Ted Nelson, who coined the term "hypertext"; Internet pioneer Dave Farber and Joi Ito of Creative Commons and the Mozilla Foundation.