RealTime IT News

Blinkx Video For TV Enthusiasts

Video search site Blinkx.com wants to encourage its early-adopter audience to become Internet couch potatoes.

The company is rolling out a set of features to make its site behave more like television.

One new feature allows users to pick a channel, such as news or music, and watch previews of the most recent videos to be indexed by the site.

There is a lag time of one to two minutes between when a video hits a mainstream news site like CNN.com and when it gets indexed by Blinkx.

Another new feature lets users see previews of search results in a five-screen by five-screen mosaic.

This gives users more information than a simple text description and also allows them to view 25 search results rather than just 10, which is the default for most text-based search engines.

Blinkx.com co-founder and CTO Suranga Chandratillake explained that the company is trying to give users the benefits of both television and Internet media.

Page views at Blinkx.com spike during mealtimes, sparking the idea that users might prefer simply having videos wash over them while they eat, rather than having to select them one at a time.

"The beauty of the Web is that you can control your experience if you really want to, but at the same time there are lots of advantages and lots of value to the passive experience," he told internetnews.com.

Blinkx technology relies on speech recognition to identify content rather than simply text and XML tagging, as is the case with most other video search solutions.

It also recognizes text within video, such as the name on the back of a uniform jersey.

The solution can also detect scene changes, allowing it to navigate bigger pieces of video more efficiently.

While speech recognition and visual analysis is not unique to Blinkx, most solutions of this kind are used in a specific, narrow scope, such as university research in a given discipline, or government surveillance of a particular television channel.

"A big part of the secret sauce behind our company is doing this kind of analysis at this kind of speed and scale," said Chandratillake.

The company is working on other technologies, such as facial recognition, but Chandratillake said the company would not begin using this until he was sure it wouldn't slow down the indexing.

Blinkx.com provides video search capabilities through distribution agreements with almost a dozen destination sites, including Lycos.com and StudyBuddy.com, AOL's site aimed at young students.

It also has partnerships with some one hundred partners that allow its spiders to crawl and index its archives, including major content providers such as CNN, ABC and the BBC.

Chandratillake estimates that there are 12 million hours of video content on the Web, of which Blinkx has indexed 6 million.

The company generates almost all its revenues through its distribution deals from ads displayed alongside the videos.

But Chandratillake explained that Blinkx maintains a site of its own in order to test new features with early adopters.

He said that destination sites with more mainstream users can't afford to take chances and possibly alienate their users.

"The way we try stuff out without getting too frustrated is by having partners who keep things simple and fit things to their audience because they understand their audience," he said.

"But at the same time we can be a lot more crazy and do a lot more funky stuff that our audiences get."