There could be good news on the horizon for accessing obsolete electronic file formats. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is developing a new search engine named Brown Dog, which will convert defunct computer files into accessible formats, reported PBS NewsHour recently.
Kenton McHenry, a senior research scientist at the NCSA, explained that a user will be able to feed a file saved in an obsolete format into the cloud-based search engine, and it will transform the file into a format the browser can read. It will also be able to assign metadata to images that were previously unreadable, making them keyword searchable.
Development of Brown Dog is funded by a $10 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its Data Infrastructure Building Blocks program. McHenry told NewsHour that the search engine will likely be available on a limited basis and testing in March 2015.