iQiyi is developing AI technology to add to its video streaming service

Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the tech industry, and China’s most popular Netflix-like video streaming service iQiyi is sparing no effort to secure its leading position in the industry by applying AI technology to its service.

Tang Xing, iQiyi’s chief technology officer, announced last week at the iQiyi Technology & Entertainment World Conference in Beijing that the entertainment company is setting up an innovation lab to develop AI technology. He stressed that the company’s AI strategies include improving user experience and optimizing commercialization.

“A massive amount of content, large user base, and strong cloud computing power have made the online video industry enter the AI entertainment era at a faster pace,” said Tang.

iQiyi's CTO Tang Xing speaking at
iQiyi’s CTO Tang Xing last Friday spoke at the iQiyi Technology & Entertainment World Conference in Beijing. Photo from iQiyi.

He said that iQiyi has developed multiple AI-driven applications based on technologies such as natural language processing (NLP), and pattern and image recognition. It is worth noting that the company is developing a technique to automatically generate “tags” for the large amount of video content it has amassed. This function will not only help the machine recommend better content for the users, but it also creates more space for advertising.

This is what the advertising process looks like with the technology. The company would add tags to the advertiser’s items, and the ads would automatically appear on the corners of the screen when the corresponding video content is being played. This means that the technology to automatically “generate tags” for videos can lead to a massive number of business opportunities.

Also with this “tagging” function, the company aims to produce short videos that are more shareable on social media platforms and can drive more traffic and user data. Tang said that iQiyi hopes to develop a tool to “smart edit” its videos to short ones.

Another function that Tang highlighted during the summit is the “search by image” function. By uploading a picture, screenshot or a poster, users are able to search for movies, television series or other video content based on their preferences.

For any technology company, collecting data is always crucial. And iQiyi has multiple ways of doing so. With its face recognition technology, the system is able to recognize the actors and actresses, and can also analyze the length of his or her appearance in the shows. The result can later be put to use for marketing and promotion purposes. “We can later put together a list of ‘stars with the longest appearances’ or something similar,” said Tang.

“40 percent of our users would enable the ‘bullet screen’ function when watching videos,” said Tang. “Much of the work that we do is to meet our users’ interests.”

Indeed, with the bullet screens, an online streaming feature which allows real-time comments from viewers to fly across the screen like bullets, iQiyi is able to collect more user data about viewers’ talking points and specific feedback on certain time frames of the videos.

It seems that iQiyi is really serious on developing and implementing more AI technology to its service. It is crucial for the company to optimize its content recommendation and “search by image” function to advance user experience. After all, it is the user base that brought iQiyi to where it is today. And yes, user experience should always come first.

(Top photo from iQiyi)

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