AL Direct, the online journal of the American Library Association, recently (Mar. 25) had a link to a Google Blogoscoped posting about an experiment Google is running which gives more search options using regular Google search "Tony Ruscoe and Philipp Lenssen write: “Google is running an experiment in their search results, apparently shown to a portion of their users. On search results, say for the query comic books, a link in the top blue bar will read ‘Show options.’ Click it, and a side bar full of options expands to the left. One of the most interesting experiments is the ‘wonder wheel’. This will show a Flash-based interactive mini app which starts with your keyword in the center, and related terms around it.”..."
The technology involves downloading a cookie to the specific computer so the blog posting gives the code that needs to be sent to Google to put the "Show options..." into effect.
For a long time I've been waiting for Google to become more graphical and this is an admittedly baby step in that direction.
Some of the other options allow the searcher to limit the search by media type and date range. There is also a tool which give a time line of the search terms.
How useful all this is waits to be seen but it's always good to see what Google engineers are working on.
BTW, there doesn't seem to be anything at Google Labs on this topic/tool yet.