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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Google Video Search Live

The brand new Google Video (Beta) search went live (at the time I linked to it yesterday, it was still a redirect to the Google homepage). Actually, instead of finding video files online for you to watch, Google is looking at the closed captioning of some stations and so far only returns textual content along with snapshots. Indexing of stations started in December 2004, so don’t expect too much content just yet. Google says:

“Our mission is to organize the world’s information, and that includes the thousands of programs that play on our TVs every day. Google Video enables you to search a growing archive of televised content – everything from sports to dinosaur documentaries to news shows.

Just type in your search term (for instance, ipod or Napa Valley) or do a more advanced search (for instance, title:nightline) and Google Video will search the closed captioning text of all the programs in our archive for relevant results. Click on a program title on your results page and you can look through short snippets of the text along with still images from the show.”

Reuters has this statement Google co-founder Larry Page:

“Now users can search the content of thousands of TV programs, find the shows that have the information they’re looking for, and learn when they can watch them.”

No actual videos to view

The video search works in three steps: enter a query on the front-page, then see different shows listed, and finally go to a specific show to read snippets and look at snapshots. Quotes from the show might look like this (I did a search for “Google”, and found “Live With Regis and Kelly”):

“Kelly: Hey, Debbie, congratulations.
Caller: Thank you very, very much.
Kelly: Let me ask you a question. Did you Google that?
Caller: No, I asked my son-in-Law.
Kelly: Oh, you asked your son-in-Law. Oh, because sometimes googling is very useful. I’ll hear suddenly people will be very silent, do you know what I mean?
Caller: I don’t know how to Google.
Regis: We don’t do googling.
Kelly: I don’t Google either.”

OK, but why can’t you see any actual videos just yet? The Google Video help answers this question:

“Can I play the videos that Google Video finds?
Not yet, but stay tuned...”

And this is a snippet from the feedback support form:

Where’s the video? I want video playback!
Google Video currently doesn’t offer a playback feature. We can’t say if we’ll offer a playback feature in the future; however, we encourage you to visit Google Video over the coming months to see our additions and improvements.”

Or, in the words of John Piscitello, product manager for Google Video:

“It’s similar to Google print that’s trying to take something that’s not online and put it online. (...) Our goal will be to connect people to the video wherever it is. We’re starting today with a limited scope, but we hope to expand in the future.”

Of course, once Google would show snippets of TV shows, there’d be the copyright issue; quite possibly, this is as far as anyone can go with TV at the moment. I wonder though if in the future, Google will combine this service with “regular” video search – multimedia files found online – and add speech-to-text technology (which certainly is not in the state yet to produce the clean and quotable results we see now). Nevertheless, the new Google Video search already looks very promising, especially if you think of it as another research tool, as opposed to a fun “multimedia locator.”

What’s indexed?

To give you an idea of what’s already being indexed, here are some shows I found:

Yahoo pushes forward too

In the meantime, the competition isn’t sleeping; Yahoo moved their video search to the front-page tabs, and in their blog announced they are working on adding closed captioning in the future.

[Thanks Chris.]


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