Blinkx Woos Microsoft With Technology Revamp

In a growing digital media market that has witnessed YouTube carve out a niche for viral video, Blinkx is looking to make those videos easier to find online.

The firm, which has indexed more than 6 million hours of audio, video and TV programming to make them searchable, announced this week that Microsoft has agreed to use Blinkx technology to power video search on some parts of its MSN and Live.com Internet sites. Microsoft will pay Blinkx a licensing fee based on how often its visitors use the Blinkx search system.

Technology Boost

Blinkx also revealed details of its newly revamped search engine, optimized for discovering rich media on the Web. The site delivers results in a user interface designed for sampling and showcasing video footage. It aims to combine the “sit back and watch” element of traditional television with the interactive experience of searching and watching video online.

With the introduction of customizable “video walls,” automatically generated popular content channels, and a “My Playlist” feature, Blinkx hopes users will deem it the video search engine of choice.

“People are much better at understanding information visually, so we redesigned Blinkx.tv to display video in a way that’s both efficient and compelling to the eye,” said Suranga Chandratillake, founder and CTO, Blinkx.

Blinkx has added innovation to the rich media search mix over the years. In 2004, the San Francisco-based angel investor-backed company introduced advanced speech recognition and transcription technology to replace standard metadata-based keyword solutions.

Blinkx’s latest iteration takes a new approach to presenting video search results to users. “Video should be delivered visually, not as a text-based list of results,” Chandratillake argued.

Customizing Video Search

Using the Blinkx video wall, users can now click “wall it” after searching to create a customized video wall of results. The video wall is a full screen composed of 25 individual screens, each showing a preview of a different video clip.

In this format, users can scroll over the clips to watch a preview. Users can embed their customized video walls in other Web sites, like their blog or MySpace page, so they can share interests with others. The My Playlist feature gives users control over how they group and watch clips. Once created, Playlists can also be shared with other users over e-mail.

The channels feature lets users find auto-generated channels of the most timely and popular topics on the new Blinkx.tv homepage. In addition, when a user conducts asearch, Blinkx will both display video clip search results and suggest relevant channels based on the user’s initial search topic.

Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube may be overshadowing Blinkx’s news, but the small company has high hopes for its rich media search technology.

The firm has a track record for success. Blinkx already powers video search on sites including AOL, ITN, Lycos and Times Online. It also indexes video for BBC, Fox, MTV, Sky News, Reuters and YouTube.

The Microsoft deal and Blinkx’ enhanced technology bode well for the company for sure, but Inside Digital Media Senior Analyst Phil Leigh sees this week’s deal as merely a consolation prize for both companies in the wake of Google’s YouTube acquisition.

“My guess is with Google acquiring YouTube, whatever role Blinkx plays with YouTube will be less significant,” Leigh told TechNewsWorld. “Microsoft can reason, just as Yahoo can reason, that they can do what YouTube has done. Well, they can, but they could also have done what eBay did. They tried and it didn’t work.”

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