Indexing Web pages looks like child's play next to indexing video files -- the next big frontier for Internet search engines. But they're giving it a try.
Yahoo rolled out a video search service (video.search.yahoo.com) that lets people look for videos online in the same way they hunt for Web pages -- by typing in a word or phrase and getting back a list of links to potentially relevant sites.
Another desktop search company, Blinkx, launched a more ambitious video-search engine, dubbed BlinxTV (www.blinkx.tv). It captures video and audio directly from Web sites, then uses special software to index these programs and make them searchable.
Rivals Google and Microsoft, meanwhile, also are working on multimedia search tools, while America Online already bought a video-search start-up called Singingfish.
Making video files searchable remains a largely unsolved challenge. "Video is hard to discover on the Internet," said Bradley Horowitz, director of multimedia search for Yahoo. "Web pages are self-describing. Video is opaque; it is a bucket of bits and doesn't tell you much about itself."
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