Blinkx improves multimedia search engine

Blinkx has enhanced its multimedia search engine by creating an online library where amateurs and professionals can upload, for free, videos they have created to make them available for viewing to Web searchers, the company announced Monday.

Videos submitted to the library, called My, get transformed into Flash format, and whatever is said in them is transcribed and indexed. The videos are also tagged with metadata, such as their creation date, length, title, owner’s name and any other relevant information about them.

Once that process is done, videos can be retrieved and viewed by visitors to My via keyword searches through the My service. At press time, the service wasn’t yet operational.

My visitors will also be able to create “channels” based on a specific search term. For example, a user might create a channel for all videos that My finds for the search term “Hurricane Katrina,” said Blinkx founder Suranga Chandratillake.

Once a channel is created, My will continue populating it in the background with new videos that match the corresponding search terms, so that the next time users access their channels, they will see videos that have been added to them. “We use cookies to save channels on the site, so the next time you visit we know who you are and which clips you’ve got,” he said.

Users who clear their browser cookies, lose their My channels, he said. If there is demand for it, Blinkx may add a log-in system to let users register and keep their channels without the need for cookies to retain them. But for the moment “we don’t want to be intrusive,” Chandratillake said.

Users will have the option of watching a channel’s videos one at a time, or watching all of them one after the other, like on television, Chandratillake said.

Users don’t necessarily have to visit My to access their channels. They can set up what Blinkx calls a “smart folder” in their PCs that will be automatically populated in the background with videos that match a chosen search term. Users can periodically open the smart folders to check what new videos have been added to it.

Although initially My will only feature noncommercial videos, mostly from amateur video bloggers, the company intends to strike deals with commercial video producers to include their videos in the service as well.

Blinkx, based in San Francisco, isn’t charging visitors for viewing videos, but later it may give owners the option of making their videos available for a fee, which would be split between Blinkx and the video owners. Another way to generate revenue from the service in the future could be by showing ads to visitors, and again splitting the ad fees between Blinkx and the video owners, Chandratillake said.

The multimedia search engine on which this new service is based, (, points users to video and audio clips hosted outside of Blinkx that are available on the Web. However, the videos in the My library will instead be hosted by Blinkx, because content owners have given the company permission to do so, he said.

Related links:

Amazon releases A9 search engine

Google expands reach of enterprise search tool

Microsoft releases desktop search suite

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