The technology behind Xayn

The technology behind Xayn

How our AI-powered discovery engine works

The inspiration behind the Xayn search engine was a simple but huge pain point: We simply didn't like how all of the search engines out there were designed.  

There are the top dogs, which can deliver great search results at the huge expense of your privacy. We looked at the alternatives, the underdogs: They usually have great intentions – like protecting your privacy or the environment – but truthfully, they always fall short. They can’t deliver the best, most relevant, most instant search results. Something else they all have in common is a lack of transparency into their search algorithms. The sad truth is that there's such lack of transparency in the search business that it isn't even funny anymore. Here we were using search engines day in, day out, when hardly anyone would ever ask: Why is this result here even shown to me?  

That's why the Xayn search engine is made to deliver on three main fronts: privacy, convenience, and control.

Xayn never harvests your personal data – unlike giants like Google. No central-server storage, no backdoor access.  

Xayn's AI also gives you personally-tailored search results – unlike today’s privacy-preserving alternatives.  

Additionally, Xayn gives you control over your search results – you decide what Xayn deems as relevant to you through Search Swiping. We want a world where users have the control, not some algorithm.

We’re the first to provide you with all three pillars. We achieved that through our dedication to privacy and transparency, and through cutting-edge AI tech. You can read about our dedication to privacy by reading our pledge, but here we’d like to provide an explanation of the tech that makes our vision possible:

Step 1: You enter a search query – it goes to our proxy

Xayn’s proxies are one of our privacy-protecting safeguards. If you’re unfamiliar with proxies, they act as middle-men. Rather than sending your query directly to our search index, your result goes to our proxy which hides your IP address, personal info, and anything identifying from the search index. Any source we ship your search query to will only see our IP address. Nobody – not even us – can see where the search request came from.

Step 2: We send search results from multiple sources to your device via proxy

We then collect potential search results from various sources and indices. These go back to our proxy, which then sends them back to your device. Then, the Xayn magic happens – search personalisation.

Step 3: The results are then tailored to you

How do we personalise your search results without any central servers knowing who you are or anything about you? The solution is edge AI, meaning artificial intelligence models that stay on your device and learn about you over time.

In detail, there are four AI models that play together:

  • Model #1 learns to understand each search's context. You might search for “Barcelona”, but will you mean the city or the football club? This AI will know.
  • Model #2 figures out which domains you like – would you like your news from CNN, RTL, or somewhere else?
  • Model #3 builds itself a picture of what your interests are – the sports you're into, the music you enjoy, that sort of thing.
  • Model #4 mixes all of that together and throws in even more contexts like the time, weather, location, and other variables to get you exactly what you need. This exact AI also works as a kind of protector against filter bubbles.  

This all happens in milliseconds. The results of this interplay are displayed to you as your search results. The AI models have been made so teeny tiny that they can comfortably sit on your phone without affecting its performance, while being powerful enough to provide great results. This took our AI engineers almost a year to figure out and we're very proud of what we’ve achieved.

Step 4: You control the algorithms

As you browse through your search results, you also have the option to swipe through them. Swiping is a way of indicating to the personalisation algorithms what's relevant to you and what isn't. That's in stark contrast to how other personalisation algorithms work, where algorithms decide which results get displayed without any conscious input from you. Alongside privacy and convenience, control is Xayn’s third pillar. You're given control over the search algorithms, which puts the human into the AI.

(Check out how we'll be making our AI even more secure with blockchain!)

Web search as it should be

All these components come together to create what we call web search as it should be: private, convenient, and controllable.  

We hope you appreciated this look under Xayn’s hood. Make sure to download Xayn if you haven't done so already, and let us know what you think with a review.

Privacy for everyone!

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