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Microsoft buys video search start-up

Tue, 11/22/2011 - 1:58pm
Brian Santo

Microsoft said it is going to buy VideoSurf, with the intent of incorporating the start-up's video-based search and discovery technology into its Xbox Live.

Xbox 360From about the time that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony emerged as the top three game console companies (with the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii lines, respectively), it's been clear that their game systems had the potential to eventually serve as set-tops or gateways.

Microsoft has been especially aggressive positioning its Xbox as such. A year ago, it arranged with AT&T to deliver U-verse through the Xbox and has since arranged to do likewise with Telus, Canal+, Foxtel, and, most recently, Comcast and Verizon.

VideoSurf offers a backend computer vision technology that examines specific frames inside videos; it analyzes the picture information and then compares that data to find matches across all videos. The result is the ability to search video by actual visual content.

Microsoft said it will integrate VideoSurf's technology into its game console "over time." Part of that integration will include marrying the VideoSurf technology with the voice-based search function Microsoft announced last summer. It plans to make it available with its next upgrade of Xbox Live, scheduled for the holidays. That search function is tied to the company's Bing search engine.

The start-up, founded in 2006, had raised $28 million in venture funding through last April. Microsoft did not announce the purchase price.

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