October 10, 2010, Updated September 13, 2012

Israel’s Jinni helps your computer understand mood and sentiment so you can find just the movie you’re looking for.

Jinni TV search demo

Want a witty, feel-good movie about family relations? Then Jinni can help you find exactly what you want.

We’re used to work, school, commuting, and family all competing for our time and energy. But in recent years, even our leisure time is overloaded with options. With so many entertainment choices available, who has time to waste on a second-rate restaurant, film, or TV show?

While it can’t solve all your leisure dilemmas, Israel’s Jinni can help you when it comes to movies. The company has developed a unique and advanced ‘video genome’ that reads, understands, and classifies movie ‘genes,’ helping you to easily find the film that suits your mood. With Jinni, says president and founder Yosi Glick, “you get the movie you want, without the guesswork.”

While you wouldn’t necessarily think that genetics could apply to film, Glick says that the science has a lot to do with the movies. “There are so many different attributes that go into mood and taste, and all these apply to film,” he says. Like genes in the human body, movies have hundreds, if not thousands, of attributes, and the Jinni system defines those attributes and allows users to search through a huge database of movies, allowing them to precisely hone in on the movie that best fits their mood.

Most movies are labeled comedy, drama, action, etc., but the Jinni genome goes much further. “A movie could be a comedy, but at the same time involve dysfunctional families, raising children, slapstick comedy, relationships between husbands and wives, along with dozens, if not hundreds, of other attributes, or genes,” Glick tells ISRAEL21c.

Breaking information down into genetic traits

The Jinni genome analyzes information about a film – from online reviews, viewer opinion, the plot itself, and many other sources, including ratings by Jinni users – and breaks the information down into the ‘genetic traits’ being described, using a combination of natural language processing and sentiment analysis.

Jinni categorizes video content based on 2,200 different parameters covering mood, setting, atmosphere, style, and more. The information goes into a database, which users can search by attributes – so if you’re in the mood for an action film that deals with the relationship between children and parents that features chase scenes, and is funny as well – that’s exactly what you get.

Jinni founder and president Yosi Glick

Jinni president and founder Yosi Glick.

While there are many ways for users to discover films, Jinni is by far the most extensive and ambitious, Glick claims. “Google and nearly all other search engines index by keyword, while Jinni indexes by meaning, making the system much more useful for making decisions that involve emotions, like film preference.

“The genome goes a long way to solving the problem of entertainment options for consumers,” adds Glick. While not revealing specific numbers, he says that the genome is “well over 80 percent accurate,” meaning that the vast majority of viewers walk away with exactly what they’re looking for.

Jinni and Google unite for TV

Jinni has forged partnerships with a number of entertainment companies including Netflix. Users can connect their Jinni account to their Netflix account, enabling them to search for films on the Netflix service according to Jinni database ‘genes.’

Far more ambitious, though, is the alliance between Jinni and Google on the latter’s new TV service, which will allow users to watch Web videos and online programs on TV sets.

With the opening of the TV set to the Web, viewers will have the option of watching literally tens of thousands of channels and programs, instead of just the dozens available on cable and satellite TV.

That’s a lot of content to go through, but Glick believes Jinni is up to the job – and a future application, for the Web and for the currently-under-development Google TV platform based on the Android operating system – will enable viewers to quickly and efficiently find the Web TV content they’re in the mood for.

For Glick, Jinni was a natural. “I’ve been working in entertainment on demand for nearly a decade, and I was actually one of the pioneers of the industry,” he recounts. “We concentrated on delivering the content – compression, universal delivery to all computers, etc. – but search was never a priority, and as a result, we were stuck with the same single-dimension text-based search used for all Web searches.

Why stop at movies?

“I always wanted to build a search engine that would allow viewers to get into the mind of the writer and producer, searching for the attributes that s/he had in mind for the presentation,” he explains. Thus, he says, was Jinni born, and the millions of users, as well as those on Netflix, are a testimony to the need for the one-of-a-kind service.

The Tel Aviv-based company employs 20, and is currently a member of the Startup Factory and DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures, which have funded Jinni with over $3 million in capital (Moshe Levin, a general partner at DFJ Tamir Fishman, is also chairman of Jinni). While the company is concentrating on movies, the technology – and the construction of a genome – could also apply to games, books, or lifestyle.

For example, says Glick, the technology could be applied to help users find a coffee shop with easy parking suitable for a business meeting – implying quiet corners and plenty of power outlets for laptops. “On paper it looks easy,” says Glick. “But to be able to get a computer to understand a request like that isn’t so easy.”

For now, though, Jinni has its hands full with entertainment, says Glick. “It’s not easy to get a computer to understand mood, sentiment and meaning, but we’re doing what we can to make peoples’ entertainment lives easier,” he concludes.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director