Trapit, a search and web content aggregator that uses some of the same DARPA-sourced artificial intelligence tech as Siri, opened up to public beta today. The service prides itself on being not a search engine but a new method for keeping up with topics that interest you. The site itself functions quite simply: there's a search bar at the top, and after entering your query, it'll return a stylized list of results featuring a blurb and a picture from each (if it can find one). You can browse the articles that Trapit finds, or if you find a particular subject interesting, you can "trap" the search query, which moves that topic into a list of "traps." These traps are what make the service unique, and they're where the content aggregation aspect of Trapit comes into play.
You're expected to take care of your traps. That's not to say that they require lots of maintenance — nothing like an RSS reader — but you do need to help it hone in on what you're looking for. Pandora-style thumbs up and thumbs down buttons allow you to make sure that you're getting exactly what you want. Once you've got a curated stream of news, it's pretty easy to read what you like, and share relevant stories via Facebook or Twitter. There's also a handy button to make a "Reading List" of stories you'd like to get back to later.
Trapit considers itself to be a bit of a "personalized search engine" — a lofty goal. It hopes to do this thanks to an AI heart built from CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes), which is part of Apple's Siri assistant as well. In all, it works fairly well. That's not to say all of the results you get are gold, however. You'll get some shady sources, and often either an incorrect image or no image at all is associated with an article result. Despite its beta status, it must be said that the interface is quite slow: searches seem to range from around ten seconds to over a minute. Adding to its tardiness is an iframe toolbar that pops up when viewing articles.
Despite a few of these caveats, the service is certainly worth a try. Free accounts are available for the beta at Trapit's website, and there's no download — it's a web app, after all. If you decide to give the service a whirl, let us know what you think in the comments, and check out the gallery above for an in-depth look at the service. Don't worry if the site doesn't suit your fancy, however: the company says they plan to use the technology to "power personalization on other [third party] sites," too.