A novel way to search music or movie files

I was in the bathroom, whistling a tune I’d heard in a movie last night (“Anchors Aweigh”, with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra,) and wishing I could find out its title, when it occurred to me. Why shouldn’t I be able to search for it?

I should be able to whistle that tune into my computer’s microphone, and have it search the audio and video files on my computer for similar sound patterns. It wouldn’t have to give me an exact match, a few possible matches would be fine. A desktop search engine, like Spotlight, or the Google Search Engine, or the Microsoft/Yahoo flavors, or whatever, brand isn’t important here, could index sound files for sound patterns – in its most basic form, it would search for inflections, and could then expand to more complex characteristics such as pitch, tone, timbre, human/instrument, etc. Wouldn’t this be an amazing thing?

Similarly, this could be expanded to movies. I could speak a phrase I remember from a movie into the microphone, and it would then search my movie files and find the movie and scene where that phrase is spoken. I know this is probably more difficult than a simple inflection in a sound file, but it is possible.

Just brainstorming… a possible offshoot could be searching movie scenes based on descriptions such as: male character dressed in a white shirt and grey pants, black shoes, hair parted from the right, in his 50’s, holding onto the side of Mt. Rushmore, bad guy stepping on his hand. This isn’t hard, it’s… Cary Grant in “North by Northwest”. The computer should be able to do that, too. I realize this may be some years away, but again, I think it’s possible.

Realizing that most people haven’t got extensive movie and music libraries, and sometimes the things they want to find aren’t on their computers, an Internet site could be set up with a large library of movie and music files. People could then whistle a tune into their microphones while they’re on the site, and could search its extensive library for the song where that snippet is found. They could choose to purchase that file afterwards. In a similar fashion, they could do all these other things I’m talking about here, eventually. Wouldn’t this be an amazing use of processing power? I for one look forward to this!


3 thoughts on “A novel way to search music or movie files

  1. There is actually a Japanese service for cell phones that does this. you call the service, hold your phone up to the sound source and it sends you a text of the artist along with a bill for the service to your service provider. I don’t recall the name of it. There was a big deal about it a while back on the interwebs..

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  2. this has actually been talked about it scientific american a few years back.. in a future tech special

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