Microsoft Corp. has announced the acquisition of California-based video discovery technology company VideoSurf Inc., which offers content analytics technology the company will use to boost its Xbox Live TV content services. VideoSurf was funded in part by former Vice President Al Gore.

Interactive Entertainment Division at Microsoft

The benefactor of the US$ 70 million investment is Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Division, and makers of Xbox, Xbox Live services.  The company has long planned to break out Xbox from a simple game console device, making it the hub of entertainment in the living room.  

xbox.jpg
“VideoSurf’s content analytics technology will enhance the search and discovery of entertainment content across our platform,” said Alex Garden, director of Xbox LIVE for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “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 [with] the potential to have content tagged in real time to increase the speed and relevance of the search results.”

Xbox to Use Voice, Gesture for Video Search 

The video search technology is to be part of a much larger offering that brings together the power of video content analytics, voice and gesture input technology and the growing Xbox Live content offering. This will include nearly 40 top video content providers including multiple service operators like Comcast and Verizon FiOS, plus top content brands like Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO. Regionally Microsoft said Xbox Live will include the BBC in the U.K.; Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany and Mediaset in Italy.

Current partners on Xbox Live include ESPN, HuluPlus, Netflix, with Bravo and CinemaNow and others already announced. Microsoft also has a Coming Soon, partners landing page.  

This acquisition will support advanced features such as voice search enabled by Kinect for Xbox 360, the company said. The new video search technology offers a back end computer vision technology that “sees” frames inside videos to make discovering content fast, easy and accurate. When combined with Kinect, the technology should empower users to locate content across multiple providers featured on the Xbox Live service, then support live interaction with the content, including gestures and voice. 

No specific rollout plans were announced; Microsoft simply said "Over time, [it] will integrate this technology across its entertainment platform to augment the Xbox 360 ecosystem and evolve search and discovery of entertainment content on Xbox Live." Xbox Live currently claims a network of over 35 million members worldwide.