Smart Scopes is one of the novel features of the new Ubuntu (13.10 a.k.a. Saucy Salamander, which will be released in October 17th). Unity Dash has been the place in Ubuntu where you can find applications, files, settings, music etc. So far it searches among things belonging to your computer, or one of Ubuntu's own services (such as the software repositories, music store). The new version introduces the "smart scopes" wich extends the search with 100 external sources. The sources are usually the most popular web services, just like Amazon, Google Drive, Picassa, Flickr, Facebook, devianArt, Wikipedia, Yahoo! just to mention a few. Ubuntu sends the query the user entered to the selected sources via the services REST APIs through Ubuntu's own API, and returns back the result in a unified format. The user can enable/disable each sources either in an ad hoc mode during search (it works as a higher level faceted search), or she can set a default behaviour (whether a general search would cover the given source). The sources are organized into categories (as social, reference, music, recipies, info etc. - these are the scopes), and behind the whole process there is a dedicated search server, called Smart Scopes Server, which merges the results comming from different sources, applies a relevancy ranking algorithm, and collects anonymous metrics. The "smartness" thing is that the server collects what the users clicked on, and improve the sort order accordingly.
The big thing for myself as a Europeana API developer is that Europeana is one of the 100 sources, and this is the first time that an Operating System contains my own handwork. It is a big thing, that Ubuntu developers thinks, that our service is in the Top 100.
The search process is pretty stratightforward. If you enter your term into the big search box, and you can select Europeana results inside the Reference scope. For the first time you have to play a bit with the categories, because by default each sources are turned on, and from the big chunk of result list it is not easy to tell which item comes from where. But with the categories on the right side (which comes when you click on "Filter results" link near the search box), you can filter out those items you don't need. As mentioned before, yoou can set default behaviours at the Applications tab (next to Home) with selecting Search plugins. (The termonology is not quite clear in every case, the name the same feature as dash plugins elsewhere.)
It is possible to search only for Europeana records, using the "europeana:" prefix, such as "europeana:hrabal".
Right now the object page (what you get when you click on an item) is rather minimalistic, I hope, that it will be richer later. You can see the title, an object image, and the data provider's name (Europeana is a big data collection of 2200+ European libraries, museums and archival institutions, and each object has its provenience. We are very proud of them, and the data provider's name is transparent in all Europeana services.)
And finally if you click on the View button, it redirects you to the object page at Europeana.eu.
The URL - as every URL referenced in Europeana API - contains an utm campaign code, which makes us possible to track the usage generated by Ubuntu users. We are very curious about the results.
If you are interested, would like to send feedback to the developers, or you are just curious about the source code here is the project page at launchpad.net: https://launchpad.net/unity-scope-europeana. You can find a couple of video tutorials about the Smart Scopes at YouTube.