Mobento Lets Users Search Video For Spoken Words


The next generation search engine knows exactly what the video is talking about

Educational video platform Mobento has launched a function that lets users search video material for specific spoken words. Although many companies are experimenting with similar technology, Mobento claims it is the first to make it available to the public.

The unique search engine automatically analyses and indexes the spoken words contained in the audio track of the clip, allowing users to find out if the video contains any useful information before they watch it.

The project is in a public beta, and features a limited number of videos of strictly educational nature, but if it is successful, Mobento has the potential to transform the way video is consumed online.

“What they said”

Have you ever been frustrated by sitting through hours of video, only to find out that it doesn’t contain the information you need? Descriptions can be misleading, and search algorithms obscure, so at present the only sure way to explore a video collection was to watch it from start to finish.

Mobento claims it has found the answer: an engine that can search through the spoken word as easily as Google is searching through text on the web pages.

To use it, one simply types the key words one is looking for, and Mobento Search finds all the videos that contain those spoken words and then shows exactly when they are spoken in the timeline.

“In the past if you wanted to find the moment when key words were spoken in a video – such as a TED talk on creativity – then you had to start at the beginning and keep going until you found it: a linear and time consuming activity,” said Sumner Murphy, the founder of Mobento.

“So much content and knowledge is consumed by video today that finding a better way to actually mine it is absolutely critical to making better use of our time. Now, what used to take you, say, two hours can be done in a few seconds,” he added.

As an educational platform, Mobento aims to have the best videos on as many subjects as possible. Every submission is subject to quality control, for two reasons:  better quality audio is easier to search, and Mobento wants to avoid cluttering up its collection with sub-par content.

“We are in the process of building relationships with the institutions and the people who make the most fascinating videos,” says Murphy.


At the moment, the website has indexed just 204 videos from educational sources, such as Stanford University, TED and Khan Academy. However, if the beta testing goes according to plan, hundreds more could be added soon.

In the future, Mobento could license its technology to other companies that need this type of functionality. Even though Mobento platform is limited by its focus on educational content, it could push bigger players in the online video market to develop their own speech search tools.

Mobento says it would be amazed if all videos were not searchable for the spoken word within several years.

In April, London-based Calltrunk had launched a somewhat similar product – ARGOsearch – that allows users to search recorded calls for keywords and other important information.

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