Searching for Video Relevance

    September 17, 2008
    Chris Crum

Google has started integrating audio indexing or "GAudi" (Google Audio Indexing) into video search. The company hopes to eventually apply it to all YouTube videos, but so far it is only limited to a narrow selection. The experiment began as an iGoogle gadget for political videos, but has now become a Google Labs project, though it is still only being applied to the "Politicians" channel of YouTube.

Perhaps it was the hype of video search engine VideoSurf (I’m still awaiting my invitation on that btw) that got this kicked into gear. Those who have had a chance to use that seem to think quite highly of it. Basically, it uses visuals throughout the videos to identify relevant results. Whether or not a certain company will try to acquire VideoSurf down the road remains to be seen (but you can imagine what it would be like if they did…eh? eh?).

But that’s neither here nor there. Google’s dealing with audio right now and seems to be making strides, though it is still far from perfect. The transition (or translation, depending on how you want to look at it) from audio to text is a bit rocky as some excerpts from this Barack obama speech illustrate:

Obama Speech Using GAudi

For example, "sex" is really "since" (I wonder how it would pick up Tiki Barber’s recent slip [may contain unsuitable language]). That’s why the project is in Google Labs though. It’s not an official release, and it will likely be improved upon. Frederic Lardinois Read Write Web suggests some additional improvements:

It would be extremely useful, for example, to be able to sort videos by date. Right now, they are always sorted by relevance, though in this fast-paced political season, it is often more important to know when somebody last used a certain phrase.

Also, while the variation on the YouTube video player Google uses here is well suited for this task, you cannot embed the videos on your own site. All you get is a link to the video on the Audi Indexing site.

The nice part about the interface is that you can jump directly to certain parts of the video based on the search results. As you can see in the above image, there are play buttons next to each one.

Despite the current kinks in the project, it is evident that video search on the whole is on the way up in terms of usefulness. I just wonder how long it will be before video and image search produce just as relevant results as regular text search. It might be a while before it gets to that point, but the light at the end of the tunnel seems a little closer these days.

Update: I have now received my invitation for VideoSurf. I’ll have to do some experimenting with it.