This is pretty impressive. There's a new search engine called midomi that allows you to sing some of a song, or even just hum the tune, and it will find the song you're looking for. It then lets you hear a sample of the track, clips of other people who recorded themselves in searching for the song, and purchase the track for download. I gave it a try by singing "wonderwall" by oasis, which it found no problem. Then Ari gave it a shot by humming "buddy holly" by weezer, and even without words it was the first result the search engine came up with. Considering how bad we are at reproducing anything we hear, that speaks well for midomi.
So will it be successful? There are a lot of ways audio search could have a huge impact in the next few years. Google is rumored to be working on an audio based search tool that gives you live search results based on what it hears you listening to or talking about. There is always audio search within podcasts, but that's more transcribing the content and allowing it to be searchable via normal means. The road midomi is going down right now, song search, probably has its limitations - after all, if you know the words to a song, you can find it much more easily using Google. However, if you just have a tune stuck in your head, that's a nagging thing that we all desperately deal with every once in a while, and a solution to that is welcome. Now the question is what more they can do with it?
Another angle - it may end up being more of a karaoke style social network. Once you sign up, you can record your versions of the songs you find. It's fun to listen to audio clips of from other people and hear how the engine paired what you recorded yourself with what they had in their database. Singing yourself and testing the engine is ammusing. And the voyeurism that comes with listening to the singing attempts of others always has its place. If search technology alone isn't in midomi's future, a variety of a social network might be.