Founder and CTO
One year on from winning at the Dragons’ Den session at the IABM Annual International Business Conference in 2019, we followed up with Geert Vos, Founder and CTO at Media Distillery, to see how things are going. Its winning proposition was a solution that guarantees deep content understanding in real time at large scale using AI.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous challenges to our industry, but also accelerated the move to cloud/virtualization and remote operations. You said at Conference that you were planning to double or even treble your staffing in 2020 to cope with your growth. How has Media Distillery fared in the face of the pandemic?
For Media Distillery, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes and challenges, but it worked out really well. Due to local government regulations, we have closed our office twice already, and we work totally remotely. For a scale-up company such as Media Distillery, it was a simple switch, and now I am happy to say that all of our employees are used to it. The biggest challenge is probably in reaching out to our customers. All the industry events have been cancelled or organised online now. That meant we had to adjust our commercial strategy as well.
With virtually no live events since March, media companies have been exploiting their archives to provide entertainment. Has Media Distillery helped any media companies with this?
We see that there is a lot of attention for media companies and that translates directly to more interest in our solutions. Indeed, many new conversations with global TV operators and broadcasters have started this year and especially about our solutions that help to improve the viewing experience on TV platforms, such as EPG Correction™, and Episodic Images™.
You talked about developing technology to underpin the Next Generation Replay Experience for TV operators to be able to compete with the native digital giants. What progress have you made on this?
We believe that the next generation replay experience is based on a deep understanding of what's inside video. Our latest developments are exciting AI solutions for advanced topic detection on video. Not only the entire videos but also small parts or sections of a video. It allows us to automatically fill the home screen of a user with the content of his liking. Topics can be a favourite soccer club or more complex like the COVID pandemic in Europe or the elections in the US. We are now testing this technology with different large TV operators to perfect the algorithms and train them for specific user groups. This deep content tagging technology can be used in different ways to improve the user experience. For instance, it can be by populating the home screen with relevant content, it can be used also for targeted advertising and viewer profile collection or to solve the 'zero results found' problem in the search engine.
What new capabilities have you added to your platform this year, and how are these benefiting your customers?
We have extended our platform in multiple ways. First of all, we have connected numerous customers all over the world to our cloud solution, enabling them to leverage all our products. And this year, we have developed our unique Episodic Images solution which, as a part of the Next Generation replay experience, allows to provide a better content discovery experience with a real-time personalisation of the user interface. Finally, our EPG Correction star solution is now able to analyse 20 000 hours of content per day, which means that this solution saves 4,796,802 seconds of our viewers' precious time per week! These impressive figures show how we can impact the user experience on TV platforms and on a large scale.
Your solutions leverage AI. Have there been any marquee advances in AI in the last year that you will be tapping in future products/services?
OpenAI recently demonstrated the power of a new algorithm called GPT-3. This algorithm has a deep understanding of the text and can answer simple questions, write emails for you and even tell you a story. Media Distillery is working on integrating algorithms as such in the platform to offer a similar level of understanding for videos. For example, you will be able to talk to your remote, ask a question and get a smart response with matching videos so the viewer can start watching.