Multimedia Search

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-12-17 Print this article Print

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo gained multimedia search expertise as part of its 2003 acquisition of Overture Services. Overture brought with it the AltaVista search engine, one of the first to incorporate video and audio search into its engine. The Yahoo Video Search project drew from AltaVistas experience but was its own project, Horowitz said. "What you are seeing is fundamentally different from the [AltaVista] video search as it existed six weeks ago," Horowitz said. Yahoos video search engine supports such common media file types as AVIs, MPEGs, Windows Media, QuickTime and Real. Some Macromedia Flash is included, but Yahoo is working to fully support Flash, Horowitz said.
As Yahoo tests the video landscape, startup Blinkx is tackling full indexing of video. The San Francisco company launched Blinkx TV, a beta service that captures video streams from 22 channels, including the BBC, Fox News, ESPN and Biography, and uses speech recognition technology to make their content searchable. It also includes audio streams from National Public Radio.
By indexing more than the anchor text and metadata associated with video, Blinkx can take users directly to a video clip and to the portion of the clip that matches their search terms, Blinkx founder Suranga Chandratillake said. Strict video search is more comparable to how people conduct Web and image searches today, but Blinkx envisions its approach as more akin to TV search, Chandratillake said. "The reality of [the video search] approach is its pretty weak and gets to the Web site but not the best point on the Web site," Chandratillake said. "With Blinkx, because were indexing the content and what people are saying on television, then you jump to the BBC or CNN clip." Blinkx TV is available through the Web as well as part of Blinkx 2.0, the companys desktop download that provides a client for entering searches and adds search toolbars to Windows applications. Read more here about Blinkx 2.0. Blinkx 2.0s "smart folders" feature for automatically populating a Windows folder with search results now supports video. Users choose to receive either links to relevant video streams or the file downloads within a smart folder, Chandratillake said. Full indexing of video likely will become more important for all search engines, Stein said. But it wont overshadow the bigger need to make multimedia results match the intent of searchers. "Video is not going to escape the core challenge of search, which is how relevant are the results and how deep are the results," he said. Beyond technology, search companies appear likely to partner more directly with the creators of video to make it more searchable. For Yahoo, RSS is only part of the strategy. Horowitz said the company has worked closely with media companies and publishers on the video search effort. Blinkx as well has focused on releasing access to video where it has a relationship with broadcasters. For example, with CNN video content, users can find relevant clips but still must subscribe to its paid service to view full-length video. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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