Microsoft Buys VideoSurf; Xbox LIVE, Bing, Expected Beneficiaries

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES — Microsoft has announced its acquisition of California-based VideoSurf, in a move to acquire the video search and discovery company’s technology.

According to Microsoft, VideoSurf developed a back-end computer vision technology that “sees” frames inside video clips to make discovering content fast, easy and accurate.

The move is initially expected to enhance Xbox LIVE, but analysts predict that it’s the company’s search engine, Bing, that may ultimately benefit the most from the buyout.

“VideoSurf’s content analytics technology will enhance the search and discovery of entertainment content across our platform,” Alex Garden, director of Xbox LIVE for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, stated. “This holiday we will launch voice search across our entertainment partners on Xbox LIVE.”

“Over time, as we integrate VideoSurf’s technology into our system, we are excited about the potential to have content tagged in real time to increase the speed and relevance of the search results,” Garden added — An increase in the speed and relevance of video search results that Bing would enjoy as an advantage in its struggle with Google over market share.

“Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division is at the leading edge of connected entertainment,” VideoSurf CEO and co-founder Lior Delgo stated. “We are incredibly excited to be working together on our mutual passion for creating amazing consumer experiences and reinventing how consumers search, discover and enjoy content on their televisions.”

Microsoft says its Xbox 360 home entertainment and video game system, coupled with its revolutionary Kinect computer-vision-based input, will forever transform social gaming and entertainment with a whole new way to play — no controller required.

Xbox LIVE is the online entertainment service for Xbox 360 owners, connecting them to games, movies, TV, music, sports and social entertainment.

The VideoSurf acquisition makes sense when considered in context of how it will enable Microsoft’s video partners to take advantage of features such as voice search.

“With Kinect, users will be able to easily search and discover content across multiple entertainment providers within Xbox LIVE,” says a Microsoft rep, “and then interact with and enjoy content in extraordinary ways using voice search powered by Bing on the Xbox 360.”

This feature will be especially important in the coming months, as Microsoft brings dozens of leading television and entertainment providers to the Xbox LIVE platform, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS and Syfy in the U.S.; BBC in the U.K.; Telefonica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and Mediaset in Italy.

As consumers become accustomed to advanced search methodologies, such as those coming to Microsoft’s platforms (and doubtless, to those of competitors such as Google), they will demand that service in all media outlets — adult entertainment portals included.