New video search sites offer glimpse of TV’s future

As more network-quality shows are coming online, webcasting technology is improving to the point where you can now catch glimpses of what TV could look like
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A handful of new Internet companies have recently introduced Web sites that aim to sift through millions of online video clips and instantly splice them together according to the viewer’s stated or implied tastes, the New York Times reported.

Though today’s selections are limited, more network-quality shows are coming online, and webcasting technology is fast improving to the point where you can now catch glimpses of what TV could look like in the not-too-distant future, the newspaper said.

The most recent version of this customized Internet TV idea comes from Blinkx, a San Francisco online search company that recently activated MyBlinkx TV at www.blinkxTV.com. The site is supposed to work much like a standard search engine, prompting users to type words or phrases into a search box.

But when the user types in, say, “big wave surfing,” instead of displaying links to Web pages, the site starts rolling a string of video clips most relevant to that topic. Users can fast-forward, rewind, pause the video and click a button to save the channel. When they return to it, the technology refreshes the channel with newer, more relevant clips.

Like Yahoo, Google and other search engines, Blinkx relies on text descriptions of video or audio clips to determine whether, say, a cooking show segment is a good match for someone’s search for “chicken soup.” But Blinkx also scans clips from sites all over the Web, using speech recognition software to index all the words in each clip. The result, Blinkx argues, is more precise matches to a user’s search.

Others in the market include the Open Media Network, Veoh Networks and DAVE.TV. Of those, the Open Media Network (www.omn.org) is farthest along in its efforts, the Times said. The nonprofit company, which got started in April, is the brainchild of Mike Homer, who co-founded Kontiki, a software company that helps companies like Ernst & Young show full-screen, high-resolution videos on their Intranets.

Open Media Network relies on Kontiki’s software to deliver videos of similar quality free to users. Because the video company’s mission is to promote public broadcasting, users choose among video clips from public TV stations — about 350 of them, and counting —as well as videos submitted by amateurs.