blinkx, the San Francisco-based start-up that has offered a multimedia search engine (see http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleId=19358 for background), has introduced a new service that lets users receive RSS feeds when content matches user-specified searches. The new SmartFeed lets users create their own, customized audio and video RSS feeds. Users visit http://www.blinkx.tv to enter a customized search. Users can specify which of the more than 30 "channels" are to be searched, if the content should be filtered, and how many results they want to retrieve (up to a maximum of 50); they then click the "Create SmartFeed" button. The audio and video segments are aggregated from the selected sources and delivered to their RSS readers as links. Users then access a pop-up window where the video is playing. SmartFeed also supports RSS enclosure standards so that podcast content can be delivered directly to podcast receiver software.
"The Internet has evolved into a vast media network, with more and more multimedia content becoming available every day," said Suranga Chandratillake, founder of blinkx. "Much of the most current and compelling content on the Internet is in multimedia format—take breaking news, for example. blinkx's unique automatic transcription technology and SmartFeed service help users navigate the increasing and diverse range of rich media that's available to them."
blinkx uses voice recognition software from Autonomy to transcribe the content of audio and video segments. It includes commercial broadcast material from outlets such as the BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Television, and Fox News as well as user-generated material such as podcasts and videoblogs. blinkx creates its indexes from both Web-based video content and from direct video feeds, using proprietary technology to create a searchable transcript. Chandratillake was formerly the operational CTO at Autonomy.
blinkx is also making the application programming interface (API) for SmartFeed available so that developers can incorporate it into their own Web sites. Those using the API for personal reasons will not have to pay anything, while commercial developers will have to request a license.
blinkx claims to be "the first service to enable Internet users to receive highly personalized audio and video content, from a wealth of news and entertainment sources, via RSS." SearchEngineWatch blogger Gary Price said that the claim is apparently true (see http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050719-080520): "As far as I know, this is the first time we've seen RSS feeds generated from keyword searches of multimedia content. FeedRoom, a service that offers streaming clips from local television stations also provides feeds. However, since FeedRoom doesn't offer transcript search, you're unable to create a customized RSS feed based on a keyword search. Yahoo Video provides transcript search for content produced by Bloomberg Television. However, RSS feeds from Yahoo Video are not currently available."
With the growing activity in the multimedia search space—including Yahoo!, Google, and AOL—it will be interesting to see what happens with blinkx. Will it continue to innovate and grab users and advertisers? Will it be acquired by one of the bigger search engines or multimedia companies?
Greg Sterling, managing editor of the Kelsey Group, speculated that someone, "probably a traditional media company," will want to acquire the company before too long (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/index.php?p=1924). Sterling called blinkx "an impressive upstart that has, through scrappy innovation, been able to put itself in contention with the likes of AOL, Google, and Yahoo! in the video-search arena."
The media and tech buzz for blinkx is quite positive. One blogger, writing on TechWhack, called blinkx "one of the most underrated searching tools around."
blinkx, a privately held company based in San Francisco and London, was founded in 2003 and launched its Web search tool (http://www.blinkx.tv) in July 2004. A free downloadable tool (http://www.blinkx.com) searches Web resources (including audio and video sources), blogs, e-mail, and files on a user's local hard drive.