Jinni's Movie-Mood Engine Impresses At CableLabs Winter Conference

Israeli startup Jinni Media took the honors for "best product idea" at the CableLabs Winter Conference with its demo of a content-discovery system that uses moods and emotions to let viewers find related content.

Attendees at the Denver conference picked Jinni as the best product idea in an informal poll out of 11 Innovation Showcase presentations Monday. The Jinni recommendation engine analyzes video content by moods and plots by crawling the Web, and picks from among 2,000 different attributes to assign to a given title, according to CEO Mike Pohl.

"We try to find the personality of a movie," Pohl said on a conference call hosted by CableLabs. "Where Google's crawling for words, we're crawling for emotions."

For example, moods Jinni associates with the film Little Miss Sunshine included "feel good," "humorous," "offbeat" and "witty" -- a combination of traits that matched most closely with another quirky indie comedy, Juno. Jinni also tries to gauge the "entertainment personality" of individual users and suggest titles they would be interested in.

Pohl said Jinni is in varying stages of deployment with cable operators in the U.S. and overseas, and that the company expects to announce customers later this year.

Initially, Jinni is working to integrate the content-discovery application into operators' Web sites. Eventually, the technology could be migrated into a set-top as an integrated part of a video-on-demand system or as an EBIF application.

"With video portals that most operators have, [the Jinni application] can enable easier search and recommendations," Charter Communications chief technology officer Marwan Fawaz said, also on the call. Compared with other products in the Innovation Showcase, "Jinni is a very pragmatic type of application."

Pohl joined Jinni last year, after serving as vice president and general manager of on-demand systems at Arris, which acquired C-COR in 2007.

Jinni has announced technology partnerships with SeaChange International, OpenTV and NDS. The startup is based in Yehud, Israel, while Pohl is based in Portland, Ore. The company's investors include DFJ Tamir Fishman and Startup Factory; in December, Jinni announced it had raised $1.4 million from those firms and angel investors.

CableLabs executive vice president and chief strategy officer David Reed said the Innovation Showcase presentations, each of which were given 10 minutes, generally revolved around three categories: multiroom DVR, social networking and enabling TV Everywhere online services.

The 10 other Innovation Showcase demos were:

* Clearleap and FourthWall Media's proof-of-concept EBIF weather application with The Weather Channel that includes integrated with video;

* iLoop Mobile's SMS-based mobile marketing system that uses a "call to action" in any broadcast ad spot;

* IPgallery's "My Contacts Zone" personalized end-user communications portal;

* Miniweb Interactive's broadband content guide that uses a hybrid set-top box capable of playing both traditional broadcast TV and Internet video;

* Pace Americas' home-content sharing multiroom DVR solution based on the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA) 1.1 spec;

* Related Content Database's Java client application that powers network communications for Blu-ray Disc players and connected devices;

* SeaChange International's Intelligent Video Platform, which lets operators deliver a multiscreen experience to subscribers from a unified back-office infrastructure;

* Trailer Park's system, presented with Jargon Technologies, that lets users of mobile devices, like an iPhone, control a tru2way-based cable box and navigate menus over a home network;

* Wowza Media Systems' unified media server capable of streaming video from one common H.264 live encode or VOD asset base to a variety of desktop, mobile and living-room playback clients from a single server infrastructure; and

* Zenverge's single-chip, whole-home DVR and multiscreen solution that uses a remote user interface embedded in video.