Mobli launches new visual search engine

EyeIn system looks to crowdsource the best visual content on the web for publishers and the public in real time

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

Mobli COO Ido Sadeh (Courtesy)
Mobli COO Ido Sadeh (Courtesy)

Moshe Hogeg, founder of the social network Mobli and the popular app Yo, introduced his newest product at a recent launch event in Tel Aviv.

The search engine, called EyeIn, will focus on visual information and utilize social networks in ways existing search engines do not. It will find and deliver users the most relevant visual content from global events and current trends in real time, Hogeg said.

Hogeg had the idea after getting cheap tickets to a concert a few years ago.

“I sat at the back, could barely see the stage. What I saw was hundreds of hands holding phones taking photos,” he said. “People take those photos every time, so potentially we have eyes everywhere. What we wanted to do is connect those eyes.”

Hogeg, in sneakers, a black tee shirt and a scruffy beard, presented examples of topics EyeIn could show to users, like a World Cup game, the Nepal earthquake, or reactions to the last episode of Game of Thrones.

Mobli Media Inc. was established in 2011 with a system like this already in mind, said Hogeg. Search engines were designed 20 years ago. Social networks did not exist then, but they now account for over 90% of new content on the Internet, he said.

There is a gap between this real-time information and news sites’ curated space, said Mobli COO Ido Sadeh. News sites are often late to events, limited by small crews and agenda-prone, he said.

The challenge with the content from social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is understanding what is happening with the data, Sadeh said.

EyeIn will use algorithms to organize such data. The site will use social materials like geolocation, time, social feedback and semantic information like hashtags to determine what is most relevant. The site will be able to determine what videos from a World Cup game are most interesting to users by monitoring the sounds of the video clips, for example, and deliver them in real time.

“If the crowd roars it’s interested, and so are we,” Sadeh said.

The site’s algorithms will use image clustering to organize what users see. Sadeh used a Lady Gaga concert for a demonstration. Images from social networks were organized into categories like “stage near,” “stage far,” “bus,” and “tickets.” Less relevant images, like selfies, were filtered out.

EyeIn could be especially useful to publishers. It has already been successfully used by outlets like the Huffington Post and the Israeli sports network ONE.

While working with ONE, Sadeh said, they realized that sports outlets often release articles before events but do not have media for their reports. EyeIn can fill this gap by showing what is going on before the game begins, he said.

Statistics from publishers show that EyeIn increases traffic on their sites. Visit duration increased by 50%, for example.

EyeIn does not expect any conflict with the social networks, said CMO Irit Singer.

“We don’t touch any of the original photos,” Singer said. “We give credit and a link back so we actually increase their traffic.”

Hogeg has a long history in successfully raising funds for start-ups. Mobli, which makes an app that lets users quickly record and upload photos and videos on their mobile devices to the cloud for anyone else to view, has raised some $90 million since 2011, including major investments from Hollywood A-list types like Leonardo DiCaprio, Serena Williams, Lance Armstrong and Tobey Maguire. Meanwhile, Yo!, which does nothing but send an eponymous push notification to recipients, raised close to $2 million last year.

EyeIn will profit through revenue sharing of native advertisements with publishers, Singer said.

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