As the volume of streaming media grows, finding specific content can
take a lot of time. For IT shops recently drawn into a world resembling
the TV business, the need to index and manage such Web-borne multimedia
presents new problems.
Those problems will become more complex as some organizations look to
sell streaming content, but novel solutions are being considered. The
National Basketball Association, for example, is at work constructing a
Website to sell audio, video, and other forms of content over the
Internet. Web experts hope that some new Web standards such as XML, the
Extensible Markup Language, will reduce the amount of work needed to
index and exchange data about such video streams.
The W3C group, a World Wide Web standards body that oversees Web
standards, has been at work formalizing certain aspects of XML over a
number of years. Companies helping the NBA to create a useful online
library expect to use XML.
Perhaps more central to the quest to archive video streams is advanced
pattern-recognition software of a kind once limited to military uses.
Such software is moving, by way of broadcasting systems, into
commercial IT departments. Some analysts call the emerging
discipline "digital asset management."
Among the players in that area is Excalibur Technologies, a Herndon,
Va., software concern that was formed in the early 1980s largely to
address the imaging needs of government-related agencies. Earlier this
year, Excalibur gained the endorsement of no less a technology
powerhouse than Intel Corp., when the chip giant agreed to form a new
public company that combined Excalibur with Intel's Interactive Media
Last month, Intel, Excalibur, and the NBA launched an effort to develop
and distribute sports content that includes enhanced broadband
programming and interactive broadcasts. The NBA hopes to provide access
to some 50 years of NBA footage, said Dan Agan, Excalibur's vice
president of corporate marketing. Eventually, the NBA will offer
personalized, on-demand views of favorite players in action.
Enhancements to Screening Room Capture, Excalibur's flagship software
program, are intended to meet the NBA and others' evolving
requirements. Screening Room allows organizations to "get their arms
around their video content" and then easily push that out to an online
environment, Agan said.
Moreover, Screening Room Capture will soon allow index information to
encapsulate as metadata in an XML format.
A common shorthand definition of metadata holds that it is information
about information. Thus, information that tells a developer, a
programmer, a machine, or a user about video content is metadata. The
usefulness of the emerging XML standard in that regard is that it may
someday provide a standard way of interchanging, for example, indexing
information on a recording of Michael Jordan moving to the hoop, Bill
Russell blocking a shot, or Dennis Rodman chest-thumping a referee. If
client or server computers can extract such data quickly, then highly
interactive online events will become a reality.
A range of uses exist for such technology, Agan said. That includes
everything from enabling advertising agencies to look through clips of
commercials that directors have produced to pick talent, to enabling
international banks to acquire knowledge of far-flung analysts, using
video and an in-house Web server.
As part of the agreement to develop a state-of-the-art interactive
streaming system, the NBA will join Intel and Excalibur as a stake
holder in Convera, the new company they are forming. The new company
will offer services that will include key Intel and Excalibur
technologies such as content protection, indexing, and search of