ChaCha, a “human-powered search engine”, today announced a new service that allows users to text questions of any kind to 242242 (which is ChaCha on a phone keypad) and receive text answers on their cell phone. The answers are sent by a live person, called a ChaCha guide.
The service is currently available as a free trial and, as part of the launch, ChaCha will be the “Official Text Answers Service of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.” This will allow festival goers to text in questions about screenings, festival events, local restaurants – anything connected with the Sundance Film Festival – and get dynamic, relevant answers from ChaCha guides. As the “virtual information booth,” ChaCha will provide exclusive real-time information about the audience pulse, length of wait lines and other dynamic and relevant information.
I spoke with Brad Bostic, president and co-founder of ChaCha, who said festival goers can even ask questions like “How long is the wait line?” and get answers from ChaCha guides.
ChaCha's new mobile answers service offers answers that people can't easily find otherwise when they have questions on the go. For example, Bostic's daughters asked him yesterday to find the name of the 2008 American Girl doll.
To get a brief answer from his cell phone, Bostic simply texted their question to 242242 as if messaging a friend. Because the questions are being answered by skilled people who are trained to use ChaCha's powerful internal search tools, users don't have to remember any special formatting or rules and questions can be asked even with typical text shortcuts, misspellings and slang.
Within three minutes, he got the answer from a day-old post on a blogger's site: The 2008 American Girl doll's name is Mia, and she's a 10-year-old hockey player-turned figure skater from upstate New York. Oh, and she has long, silky red hair.
With ChaCha, users can ask questions on a variety of topics, including:
• Dynamic information – sports scores, movie times, airline delays, weather, etc.
• Local information – cheapest gas, shopping, recycling, pharmacy locations and more
• Current events – business news updates, stock updates, world news, etc.
• General information – names and phone numbers for local businesses and residences
• Trivia -- movie quotes, song lyrics, celebrity gossip and more
With the world's biggest community of real-time guides in place, ChaCha has put its powerful technology platform to use with mobile devices, Bostic added. On the cell phone, users benefit from the assistance of another knowledgeable human who can do research for them – especially when they don't have the resources, such as a computer, to do the research on their own.
So, what do you want to find out about the films, world premieres, panels, discussions, deals, and, of course, parties at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival? ChaCha is there and, thanks to text alerts, you'll be the first to know whatever is worth knowing.