SMS-based web search for low-end mobile devices

Jay Chen, Lakshmi Subramanian, Eric Brewer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Short Messaging Service (SMS) based mobile information services have become increasingly common around the world, especially in emerging regions among users with low-end mobile devices. This paper presents the design and implementation of SMSFind, an SMS-based search system that enables users to obtain extremely concise (one SMS message of 140 bytes) and appropriate search responses for queries across arbitrary topics in one round of interaction. SMSFind is designed to complement existing SMS-based search services that are either limited in the topics they recognize or involve a human in the loop. Given an unstructured search query, SMSFind, uses a conventional search engine as a back-end to elicit several search responses and uses a combination of information retrieval techniques to extract the most appropriate 140-byte snippet as the final SMS search response. We show that SMSFind returns appropriate responses for 57.3% of ChaCha search queries in our test set; this accuracy rate is high given that ChaCha employs a human to answer the same questions. We have also deployed a pilot version of SMSFind for use with a small focus group in Kenya to explore the interaction issues of such a system and share our early experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMobiCom'10 and MobiHoc'10 - Proceedings of the 16th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking and 11th ACM International Symposium on Mobile Ad Hoc Networking and Computing
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781450301817
StatePublished - 2010
Event16th Annual Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, MobiCom 2010 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Sep 20 2010Sep 24 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, MOBICOM


Other16th Annual Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, MobiCom 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, IL


  • Cell phones
  • Question/answering
  • SMS
  • Search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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