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Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2001

Showcase features KU, Lawrence connections

June 21, 2001

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— A Kansas City, Mo.-based company is relying on technology developed at Kansas University to find a cure for an increasingly common ailment: the inability to decipher 20,000 Web sites offering health information.

Today Communications Inc. next month will launch www.VitalSeek .com, a search engine designed to accept personal information from each user and use it to sort through online resources involving medicine and health.

Some 97 million adults in the United States are reported to have sought medical information online, and Today Communications wants to grab much of the growing market.

The site's key technology is being developed in conjunction with the Information and Telecommunications Technology Center at Kansas University. Susan Gauch, an associate professor, is leading a team of graduate students working to make the VitalSeek Web site work.

"It's crucial," said Amy McWilliams, a Today Communications spokeswoman, working a booth for the VitalSeek site at the Kansas Technology Showcase on Wednesday in Topeka. "We can't exist without the search. We can pull together the database of sites, but unless we have a way to search that database we're nothing."

VitalSeek was among 100 high-tech start-ups, vendors, consultants and manufacturers taking part in the third annual showcase at the Kansas Expocentre.

Among them was Microtech Computers Inc., a Lawrence-based manufacturer that last year sold $10 million worth of computers to the state of Kansas. Robert Szabo, account executive for the company's government sales division, spent Wednesday showing off his company's new wireless computer ports.

The wireless equipment isn't advanced enough yet to handle broadband communication, but Szabo wouldn't be surprised to see the capabilities speed up by next year.

"That's all technology is," he said. "Every time you buy something it's always getting out of date. You just have to pay attention."

The showcase continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Expocentre.

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