Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cha Cha, Free Web Assistant

Cha Cha is a free service for looking things up on the web, the twist here is that you ask the question by calling a toll free number from your mobile phone, then a human will do a web search for you, sending you the answer as a text message to your phone. See the video below for Mossberg's review of the service.

I've seen several versions of this kind of service over the years. Back in the 90s there was a similar service where you could call and speak to a person directly and they would email you your response. This was a subscription service but it was cheaper than directory service. Of course it went away after the dot com implosion.

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing these guys built the system by using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service as part of the back end.

This service seems to only work in the US. However, it might be possible to sign up as a Cha Cha guide, even if you're outside of the US.