Internet search company Powerset moved a step closer to launching its natural language search engine on Monday as it opened its search technology to outside users for the first time.

The Silicon Valley-based company hopes its new user community, Powerset Labs, will help contribute feedback to the development of the consumer search engine it aims to launch sometime in 2008.

After years of internal development, Powerset is excited to finally open our technology to outside users, said Steve Newcomb, COO and co-Founder of Powerset. The Powerset Labs community will be key to helping us complete our product and bring it out to the world,

The technology being developed allows each sentence in a page to be read and extracts the meaning of those sentences. Natural language search aims to improve upon current mainstream search sites, which look only for keywords but omit the use of stopwords such as for by and about, which add additional nuances of meaning to searches.

Search today is like talking to a toddler. You are delighted it can understand anything but you can't wait for it to grow up so you can have a richer conversation, said Barney Pell, the company's chief executive and co-Founder.

Powerset's technology was developed in-house and through a licensing agreement with Xerox's wholly owned research and development company, PARC.

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