France and other European countries must meet the global challenge posed by Google and Yahoo! That’s the word from President of France, Jacques Chirac, who fears that all that is not available online runs the risk of being invisible to the world. A rival service - Quaero, Europe's response to Google – needs to be launched. Quaero, a Franco-German project, is being developed by a consortium including - Thomson, France Telecom, and Deutsche Telekom.

The project - whose Latin name means "I seek", will focus on 3 areas: a combined sound, image and video search engine for the general public; professional search applications; and audio-visual "heritage" such as historical footage.

Quaero is all about searches "understanding" audio, images and video, sans written descriptions; and stands test to a new research and development approach driven by the Agency for Industrial Innovation (AII), which is the discovery of Jean Louis Beffa, chairman - glass and ceramics group, Saint-Gobain.