Autonomy+Virage = Dominant *media* search engine?

Autonomy announced Wednesday that they’re getting back into the consumer search space…one they quietly exited in 2000. Search is key for certain, but what REALLY trips-my-trigger is a company they acquired some time ago.

When I was at Vignette during and after the dot.com adventure, we were the web content management engine behind numerous marquee sites with rich media.  One of our partners — on whom I drank the KoolAid about their value proposition by the gallon — was a company called Virage. These guys had an incredibly cool technology that could index a *huge* amount of video, audio or images and index what lived inside this unstructured media content: facial recognition; the closed captioning track; speech-to-text; real-time analysis and encoding of streaming media (which to me was THE COOLEST thing and something uStream.tv, Podshow or any other media site should drool over); and a whole lot more.

Virage’s customer list is a who’s who of media companies globally. In the summer of 2003 they were acquired by Autonomy who has also sold licenses of their core search technology to intelligence agencies (seemed like a good fit: the Virage sweet-spot is media…Autonomy’s is static content plus context and more and both needed desperately in a post-9/11 world).

Here’s some of their marketing speak and why you might be interested:

Virage’s unique technology automatically ingests and understands all rich media content and allows users to search extensive video assets with pinpoint accuracy. Offering a full spectrum of retrieval methods, including search by audio, scene, speaker, location, key-frame, image, on-screen text, face, token and even concept, Virage ensures rich media are searchable at a granular level. From enterprise multimedia archives to consumer video searching, Virage’s sophisticated functionality set allows users to search deep within all multimedia assets and extract content of maximum value.

Here’s why this matters in today’s user-generated content and richer media Web world: In response to the explosion of second generation web content which focuses increasingly on rich media content, Virage has developed the world’s first technology to capture and index broadcast content from any source automatically and in real-time. Virage IPTV makes all broadcast content immediately fully searchable and accessible via IPTV and offers users true personalization: content consumers are now able to create their very own TV programmes by slicing and dicing relevant rich media content. Virage IPTV signals a new era in content creation and distribution by offering broadcasters enhanced distribution mechanisms and flexibility while empowering consumers to become their own virtual editors. Next generation search capabilities from Virage allow users to reach right inside video streams, navigate vast quantities of rich media content and search by a range of parameters including audio, scene, speaker, location, key frame, on-screen text, face, token and concept.

As the proliferation of rich media content continues apace, both within the enterprise and within the consumer arena, Virage provides a comprehensive solution to ensure that users can search deep within extensive rich media assets and access relevant content with an unprecedented degree of accuracy. What they should’ve probably added was, “…and entering the consumer space with all of our new, acquired tools should vault Autonomy’s market capitalization forward in a huge way.”

I predict this is but the first of a series of established commercial software vendors that enter the consumer space with business intelligence, enterprise resource planning and other tools to take advantage of the onrush of participation on the Web.

Like Cisco buying WebEx and Amazon offering Web Services, let’s hope Autonomy delivers API’s that developers — and any of the rest of us who’d like to have Squidoo-like lenses or Custom Searches like Google’s to scan specific repositories of unstructured media-based knowledge — so we can leverage the capability a company like Autonomy can make available.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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