We are now living in an era of “visual content” featuring shared photos and videos. At YouTube alone, the world’s biggest video-sharing site, one hour’s worth of video is uploaded on the site every second and over 4 billion videos are viewed in a day. On photo-sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr, a countless number of pictures are uploaded and shared every minute.
In this glut of visual content, however, you may have had frustrating experience of looking for a glimpse of images that you saw somewhere but couldn’t find a matching video on any website. Not anymore. Now you can search a screenshot that you want from a myriad of videos, thanks to a new technology that matches an image to the video that contains it, called “Image2Play,” developed by a Korean company Enswers.
Image2Play is a revolutionary technology, analyzing gobs of images, and matching them up with any video available on the Internet. This is how it works; First, the user downloads Image2Play on the computer; it enables the user to click an image from a video on a given web page, with a "play" button overlayed the image. Then, the user can click the button, and the corresponding video appears in a pop-up player to play, right on the web page in which the analyzed image was displayed.
Kim Kil-yeon, the CEO of Enswers, founded the company in 2007 after a failure in a technology startup. He developed a voice-recognition service a decade before Apple announced its Siri, the speech interpretation and recognition software. In 2000 when he was a graduate student at KAIST, the prestigious institution of higher learning in science and technology, Kim and his schoolmates introduced “SL2,” a tele-interpreting service based on their voice recognition technology. But the service didn’t take off because the voice recognition technology was not yet commercially viable at the time.
However, when he was developing Image2Play at Enswers in 2007, he was confident of its commercial success, believing that the timing was right this time around as video services like YouTube were gaining a huge momentum. After the viability of technology was proven clearly, investment followed. In 2009, Japan’s Softbank, seeing a huge potential of the technology, invested 2 billion won (US$1.8 million) in Enswers. Last year, KT, a major Korean telecom operator, acquired Enswers as its subsidiary, betting on its smart recognition technologies.
Enswers is now reaping revenues from licensing fees by providing copyright filtering technologies to major portal sites. Furthermore, Enswers plans to initiate its own video search service this year. As part of the plan, the company acquired Soompi, one of the world’s biggest English online media providing complete coverage of Korean pop culture last year. Enswers plans to implement banner advertisements while launching a social commerce at the site. In addition, a smartphone version of the video search service is scheduled to be released in the first half of this year.
Enswers’ next target is face recognition technology. The company says that with this technology, users could search for any video in which a particular person the user looks for appears in the picture with his or her face in it. The technology also can be applied to criminal investigations like matching montages of suspects to closed-circuit TV videos.
Enswers recorded the sales of 4 billion won last year. The smart search company targets 7 billion won sales revenue this year and it seems the future of the company is bright when everybody is searching for “the murderer” who killed the radio star.
By Adrian Han (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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