The U.S. military, with help from Seattle startup Delve Networks, has launched a video-sharing Web site for troops, their families and supporters, a year and a half after restricting access to YouTube and other video sites.
TroopTube, as the new site is called, lets people register as members of one of the branches of the armed forces, family, civilian Defense Department employees or supporters. Members can upload personal videos from anywhere with an Internet connection, but a Pentagon employee screens each for taste, copyright violations and national security issues.
Part of Delve's work was to build speedy tools for approving and sorting incoming videos. Its technology also crunches video files into several sizes and automatically plays the one that best suits viewers' Internet connection speeds.
But the 4-month-old startup's real forte is making sure site searches turn up the best video results. Delve's system turns a video's sound into a text transcript. It pares unimportant words like "this" and "that," then compares what's left against a massive database of words commonly uttered in proximity to each other, collected from crawling hundreds of millions of Web pages.
The result: Even if speech recognition software trips on the one word someone is searching for, there's a good chance Delve can still deliver relevant results.
In May 2007, the Defense Department banned employees and soldiers from accessing sites including YouTube and MySpace, citing security and bandwidth issues. Delve Chief Executive Alex Castro called TroopTube a "retention tool" aimed at a generation of soldiers who bring laptops to the front lines.
"A lot of people are excited in the company (Delve) to be doing something for the people who make sacrifices," said Castro, his eyes tearing. "We're proud of this."
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