By TED CARTER
The worth of pictures has stayed at one thousand words for what seems like ages.
That is changing.
The idea crew at Ridgeland-based C Spire’s Vu Digital says its newest technology can turn those words into millions of dollars, and maybe more.
Think video-to-data, or V2D, says Vu Digital’s Wade Smith, vice president of operations and development.
Vu Digital says it has “cracked the code” and can help customers involved in the video value chain such as creators, publishers and marketers figure out what is actually going on inside videos. “The data can be used for search engine optimization, personalization, ad targeting and even determining the ‘brand value’ of a video, including how long and how prominently a product, logo or person appeared,” said Dave Miller, C Spire’s senior media relations manager.
Each frame the video search engine targets has something to tell, said Vu Digital’s Smith on his return from showcasing the new technology at the National Association of Broadcasters 2015 show in Las Vegas. The technology won a place on the NAB’s SprockitHub, where it joined 29 other all-star startups on a large stage in front of world’s largest gathering of media and entertainment professionals.
From there, Vu Digital’s V2D will gain further visibility as part of the NAB’s “Sprockitaccelerator” tour stops through the rest of the year. It’s especially significant, C Spire’s Miller said, that a Mississippi tech company will go on tour with more than a couple dozens promising startups predominantly from California’s Silicon Valley, America’s tech mecca.
In fact, the first stop after Las Vegas was a stage presentation in the Silicon Valley community of Mountain View, Miller noted. “We’ll take all the buzz we can get.”
The technology’s market entry comes just a couple of years ahead of an Internet milestone in which video is expected to account for 90 percent of all Internet content, C Spire and Vu Digital say.
Tags accompanying the video hardly tell the story, especially the video’s brand value, they say.
Say a still frame of the video turns up a Mercedes advertisement. BMW may want to advertise next to the video, Smith said.
The trick is to take the video and break it into still frames, identifying every object and sound. The identifications of sight and audio are transmitted as metadata, then converted to words, according to Smith.
Vu Digital’s development of V2D started out a couple years ago as a quest for a marketable Internet personalization technology. Or, more specifically, a technology that would personalize Web sites by pulling together content in which an individual Internet user would be interested, Smith said. “We were successful developing that and have a patent pending on it.”
The result, he said, was a personalization technology that was “making terrible recommendations.”
Nothing on the global tech market could solve the problem, thus forcing Vu Digital to put its code crackers to work.
The V2D will produce an enormous amount of metadata, something that Vu Digital can accommodate with C Spire’s new data center in Starkville.
As founder of Boston’s Recon Analytics, Roger Entner has the job of clearing away the information clutter to help focus executives and policymakers on what is actually happening in the marketplace. He said he sees a valuable asset in Vu Digital’s V2D technology.
“It’s something we actually need,” Entner, a former Nielsen executive, said in a phone interview last week. “The applications are so widespread.”
Looking ahead five years, Entner expects Vu Digital’s video search engine to be “everywhere” and in wide use by Google, law enforcement and national security.
For now, according to C Spire’s Miller, Vu Digtal is operating with minimal staffing. “Our future needs will be similar to any other growing company, with an emphasis on tech-related jobs like software developers and engineers, computer systems and database administrators and computer programmers,” he said.
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