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Friday, March 5, 2010

15 YouTube Killer Features of 2025

In the year 2025, perhaps we’ll be seeing:

1. YouTube Super Zoom

What it is: When watching a video, you can press the pause button and zoom in on smaller stuff you see in the background. For example, we see a mayor walking through a museum, and there’s a painting by Vermeer in the background. Hit pause and the zoom icon, and click on the Vermeer painting, which is highlighted with a “zoomable” color (as are some other objects in the scene). It will be enlarged up to the point where you can see individual paint strokes.

How it works: Google’s image comparison engine will run in the background as soon as you select the zoom tool. For instance, the comparison engine will notice that images of the region containing Vermeer’s Milkmaid are available in many other places all over the web, like museum sites which have super large imagery. Google will merge those images to create an authoritative larger image, making user zooms feasible.

2. YouTube Speech Dubbing

What it is: When you watch a foreign language short film on YouTube, the voices will automatically be dubbed into the language of your current content preference. You won’t even notice people aren’t speaking your mother tongue.

How it works: Behind the scenes, Google’s YouTube runs a speech-to-text program, followed by machine translation, followed by text-to-speech. To make the outcome more seamless, face recognition understands who is speaking and slightly adjusts the lip movements of the speaker so that it looks like the person really says the translated tone.

3. YouTube Music Composer

What it is: You’re an amateur film maker. You created a thrilling, low-budget short film, but you don’t have any money (or the needed talent) to add a great music score. You click “Compose music”, and YouTube suggests a complete, copyright-free soundtrack to you. You check the score and possibly tweak the results where needed, and go live with your short film.

How it works: By analyzing light, pace, speech patterns – does the speaker sound nervous, happy, stressed, relaxed? – and more, YouTube’s AI music composer engine automatically creates a score. Most of the “smartness” of the algorithm is actually brute force: YouTube analyzes millions of movies and their respective scores, and compares what the visuals of your clip at a specific time most likely resembles. It then merges and distorts music from the scores found, adjust harmonies and rythm, and attaches it to your clip. The music distortion is just substantial enough so that no music composer can sue Google for ripping off their piece.

4. YouTube 3D Rotation

What it is: You’re viewing a clip with an interesting building in the background. You can hit the pause button and then rotate the building, showing it from different sides.

How it works: Google’s all-encompassing Street View cameras collect 3D data from all kinds of scenery. They also match objects from photos snapped from different angles found all over the web. When a matching image is found in the video, it’s connected to its 3D counterpart to allow you to rotate it.

5. YouTube’s I’m A Star

What it is: You send a film clip of a famous Hitchcock movie scene to a friend. Your friend sees you being attacked by a bunch of scary birds, with Tippi Hedren screaming for your life!

How it works: You can pick any movie available at YouTube. Many full-length movies, like all of Hitchcock’s work, have passed into the public domain by now, allowing creative remixing and more. You click the “I’m A Star” button, and let your webcam snap a few portraits of you. Google’s face recognition will then show you a selection of actors of the movie. You click on Rod Taylor, and instantly have his face be replaced with yours across all of the movie.

6. YouTube’s Clipteller

What it is: Atop every video there’s a “Clipteller” tab. Click it, and the contents of the clip will be explained to you in story form – both in plain text, as well as a voice reading the text – complete with descriptions of what’s happening in every scene, dialogue and so on. This creates very accessible videos, and it’s also content which in turn gets indexed by Google, ready for full-text searching.

How it works: Google’s film analysis algorithms have become so smart, they know what’s happening. If a train is driving by in a scene, the algos will understand the object “train”, the action “passing by”, they will be able to categorize the sound into “train sounds” and so on. From that information, an AI creates a textual description, which is then “beautified” by comparing it with typical story writing patterns, found in the millions of books which Google scanned.

7. YouTube’s Filmmaker

What it is: Filmmaker lets you edit a video, apply filters, crop, tweak and mash videos at your pleasure. You can add titles and special effects, like an explosion. You can even choose from a variety of famous actors to play along in your video.

How it works: Filmmaker is an app sitting in the browser, with no further downloads necessary, thanks to the power of HTML9. It integrates with mobile phone cameras and so on so that making short movies becomes very casual. Based on old films, which Google all digitized, Filmmaker allows you to pick from a vast range of classic actors, which are all available as smart 3D avatars. This way you can tell Arnold Schwarzenegger to jump off a balcony and then let the house behind him explode. (Arnold will get a share of your ad revenues from movie displays.)

8. YouTube’s GeoFilter

What it is: Depending on the location of the video viewer, you’ll only see scenes which are legal per your government’s rules. For instance, if violent movies are illegal in your country, then the scene which would contain a sword fight will be replaced with a ballet scene. Similarly, if demonstrating for free speech rights is illegal in your country, then a news report showing a demonstration will turn into coverage of a baseball game.

How it works: Google’s YouTube offers all governments an API to feed them their legalese and religious preferences in simple terms, like “May contain violence”, “May not contain demonstrations” and so on. When a user visits YouTube, their location is known by their IP, and YouTube – the AI of which understands the actual content of a clip – compares with the legalese API data to understand which scenes should be replaced. Replaced scenes are either taken from other, copyright-free videos, or re-enacted using YouTube’s smart 3D objects and avatars.

9. YouTube Change the Cam

What it is: When watching an archived news report on YouTube – say, a press conference by the president – a camera symbol shows up in the bottom of the video. Click it, and the same press conference will be displayed from another camera angle.

How it works: YouTube checks, rather fuzzily, if the specific audio track of a clip has matches in other clips. If it finds other clips, it checks if the video differs substantially. If that’s the case then YouTube figures it’s the same scene shown from a different angle.

10. YouTube Shut Out the Kids

What it is: YouTube allows you to switch on a setting so that kids won’t be able to see certain content, like brutal kung fu movies.

How it works: It doesn’t really work, because kids end up outsmarting their parents and blocking them from seeing anything. YouTube cancels this feature after a two week trial and creates a support hotline for confused parents.

11. YouTube AutoRatings

What it is: Every clip is assigned a rating expressing how funny it is, how dramatic, how brutal, how sad, how romantic and so on. Nobody manually sets these ratings, though. You can then search, for instance, for a movie that’s funny but thrilling, and get back a comedy action buddy movie.

How it works: A great number of voluntarily participating YouTube users have their webcam turned on whenever they surf the web, including YouTube. A small program implemented in Google’s browser recognizes the face and parses the facial emotion, and also listens to the user voice. If you smile, the cam will know, and attach that emotion (happiness/ funny/ good) to the individual video clip or other page you’re on. This in turn helps them identify the emotions a particular clip or web page triggers, which then helps them deliver better web search and YouTube clip search results. (SEO spammers quickly learn to abuse this feature by paying large crowds of people to visit their websites with a forced smile.)

12. YouTube Social Network

What it is: Google turns YouTube into a giant social network, based on videos you viewed.

How it works: Similar to the Gmail Buzz program, Google connects everybody to everybody else, ignoring certain privacy details for a while. People will be shocked and complain about how their viewing habits are suddenly connected to their web search history and email address book, so Google will refine their opt-out setting, but at that point millions of users have already been connected, and Facebook is dead.

13. YouTube FindYourProduct

What it is: A company, like the Coca Cola Company, can enter their product – “bottle of coke” – and find videos of people happily consuming their product. They can then add their banners to the side of that video, or create lotteries where everyone consuming their product has a chance to win big money, or they can simply analyze consumer behavior.

How it works: A straightforward image recognition is the basis of FindYourProduct. YouTube content creators later understand that they can make more money by strategically placing products inside their videos – because this will get them better ads, and a chance to win in the product lotteries – so YouTube is flooded with lots of grassroots product placement.

14. YouTube 3D

What it is: You can view any film on YouTube in 3D. Even without special glasses, and without the respective film being shot in 3D.

How it works: Based on a patent by Matt Cutts, Google’s algos analyze depth layers in clips by checking movements and generating a pseudo-3D scenery out of it, extrapolating existing visuals with a lot of guess work. Using a very complicated Subpixel Rendering Blinking Effect built into the Google Chrome OS for that purpose – lucky Google, as their major OS market share allows them to roll out whatever browser feature they need for their web sites – the movie transform into 3D.

15. YouTube Smell the Vid

What it is: Once activated, a scene in a movie will smell just like it would if you were there. If the movie protagonist is on a fishing hunt on his boat then you’ll smell the salt water and the fish. If the protagonist of a romantic movie puts on perfume, you will know its brand without seeing.

How it works: The Google Chrome Pad computer will have an odor emitter. Just like speakers emit sounds, this piece of hardware emits smell, by mixing different base fragrances to create e.g. cinnamon, strawberry, salt water and so on. Websites can define these fragrances in their stylesheets. YouTube on the other hand automatically analyzes video clip content semantics, and emits the needed fragrances, outputting them in real-time.

16. YouTube’s Just Let Me Watch the Movie, OK?

What it is: The “Just Let Me Watch the Movie, OK?” setting (JLMWMovie-OK), once activated, will show a movie as it was actually intended to be seen by its director.

How it works: JLMWMovie-OK is rather simple: activate it, and the killer features 1 to 15 as mentioned above will be deactivated. The artistic integrity of the movie is preserved, and you can lean back with a pack of popcorn and actually just enjoy the video.

[Photo source CC licensed by Scott Eric.]


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