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Google Acquires reCAPTCHA To Improve OCR & Rumors Of Brightcove Acquisition
The big news is that Google has officially acquired reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA are those funny looking letters you see when you fill out forms, asking you to enter in the letters into a box, in order for you to validate that you are indeed a human.
Why did Google buy them? Not for the CAPTCHA feature, but as a way to improve their OCR technology, the technology they use to understand scanned words. reCAPTCHA has a pretty large database of letters they collected matched to what actual humans thought those letters were. This is somewhat similar to how Google Image Labeler works, where Google shows you an image, and a human types what that is an image of. In the reCAPTCHA scenario, they are showing you a scanned word from a newspaper and asking humans to tell them what that word is. By collecting billions of these matches, Google can use this data to improve their OCR technology in the realm of Google Book Search or Google News Archive.
The second bit of acquisition news is the rumor that Google will buy Brightcove for $500-$700 million. Brightcove is an online video platform typically used by media companies to publish and distribute video across the Internet. Brightcove is less of a user generated platform then YouTube, but more of a media distribution venue for video. The rumor stems from a tweet from Mark Glaser, where he said:
Source with knowledge of deal tells me video service Brightcove in talks with Google about buyout in $500m to $700m range.
Neither company has confirmed or commented on these rumors. For more coverage, see Techmeme.
Postscript: A new report is saying this Brightcove Google rumor is false.