Shashi kant

Indian American entrepreneur Shashi Kant (left), co-founder of Netra, and Amit Phansalkar, CEO of Netra. (netro.io photos)

An Indian American graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has founded a company that is sifting through and organizing videos throughout the Internet.

At any given moment, thousands of new videos are being posted to sites like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram with an increasing number of those videos being recorded and streamed live, an MIT report notes.

But technology and media companies still struggle to understand what’s going in all that content, it said.

Now, Shashi Kant-founded Netra is using artificial intelligence to improve video analysis at scale.

The company’s system can identify activities, objects, emotions, locations, and more to organize and provide context to videos in new ways, according to the news report.

Companies are using Netra’s solution to group similar content into highlighted reels or news segments, flag nudity and violence, and improve ad placement. In advertising, Netra is helping ensure videos are paired with relevant ads so brands can move away from tracking individual people, which has led to privacy concerns, the MIT report said.

“The industry as a whole is pivoting toward content-based advertising, or what they call affinity advertising, and away from cookie-based, pixel-based tracking, which was always sort of creepy,” Netra co-founder and chief technology officer Kant, a graduate in 2006, said.

Netra also believes it is improving the searchability of video content. Once videos are processed by Netra’s system, users can start a search with a keyword. From there, they can click on results to see similar content and find increasingly specific events, MIT said.

“Video is by far the biggest information resource today,” Kant added in the report. “It dwarfs text by orders of magnitude in terms of information richness and size, yet no one’s even touched it with search. It’s the whitest of white space.”

Kant researched under MIT Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee as a graduate student and was inspired by his vision for improving the way information is stored and used by machines.

Kant was also a member of the winning team in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition (the MIT $50K back then). He helped write the computer code for a solution called the Active Joint Brace, which was an electromechanical orthotic device for people with disabilities, the report said.

After graduating in 2006, Kant started a company that used AI in its solution called Cognika. He started Netra in 2013 to use AI for video analysis.

Netra can quickly analyze videos and organize the content based on what’s going on in different clips, including scenes where people are doing similar things, expressing similar emotions, using similar products, and more.

By defining the relationships between different clips, Netra’s system allows customers to organize and search their content in new ways, the MIT report adds.

Netra currently counts some of the country’s largest media and advertising companies as customers. Kant believes Netra’s system could one day help anyone search through and organize the growing ocean of video content on the internet. To that end, he sees Netra’s solution continuing to evolve, the report said.

“Search hasn’t changed much since it was invented for web 1.0,” Kant says. “Right now there’s lots of link-based search. Links are obsolete in my view. You don’t want to visit different documents. You want information from those documents aggregated into something contextual and customizable, including just the information you need.”

Kant believes such contextualization would greatly improve the way information is organized and shared on the internet, according to the report.

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