Every tale of bootstrapping technology entrepreneurs seems to involve a garage. For Tim Tuttle, though, it was an apartment. “I actually emerged with a tan–from the monitor glow,” he says.
Tuttle, founder and CEO of Truveo, a Web video search company that launched its beta site on Wednesday, spent two years in an apartment in Cambridge MA with his co-inventors to create the cutting-edge technology behind his company.
The video search arena that Tuttle entered when he emerged, just a couple months ago, is a lot more crowded than the one that existed when he went in.
Since May, Google, AOL, Yahoo, and Blinkx, as well as other sites, have added video search capabilities to their mix of search services.
As with text-based search, though, the quality and methods used by these services vary wildly. For instance, despite its dominance in text search, Google’s video search service produces somewhat haphazard results in response to some search terms, while Truveo seems closer to the mark.
Searching “Red Sox” on Truveo, for example, returned 388 files, the first 100 or so highly relevant to the Boston Red Sox–game highlights, features on the team, and so forth. Searching “Red Sox” on Google’s video search yielded 988 files, but the first page consisted entirely of clips from CSpan, weather reports, and other marginalia.
Search results vary because video search engines use different methods to hunt for video content. Most engines still focus on searching the text on a site, looking for obvious words, such as “video,” and for the file extensions most often found with video files, such as .avi, .mpeg, and .mov.
This method may be nearing the end of its usefulness, though, since many websites today are rendered on the fly, using a combination of applications and HTML. As a result, there’s not much useful data to be found by just searching the text for video information using video-search crawlers (software programs that comb through a site to assess its contents and report that data back to search engines). Many of the most popular sites with video content–CNN.com, for example–display no .avi or .mpeg links.
Tuttle says Truveo’s method circumvents this change in websites, by searching for application data instead of simple text. Truveo waits until the page is loaded before searching. This allows it to examine what is about to be displayed and to find video that text crawlers would miss.
“When our crawler looks at a web application or web page, it looks at it the same way a human would,” says Tuttle, who first began his work at MIT (undergrad, grad, and doctorate degrees) in 2003. “The crawler examines the visual characteristics of the page to find video and any metadata on the page.”