NSF Small Business Grant Funds Educational Video Company

Index-Caption-Search Technology for Video Lectures

Computer scientists at the University of Houston have been awarded a one-year, $225,000 National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (NSF SBIR) Phase I Grant. This grant will support the educational video business Videopoints LLC, which is based on a video lecture service offered to students enrolled in various UH courses.

The Videopoints LLC Group
The Videopoints LLC group, from left to right: R. Shalini Koka, M. Rajiur Rahman, Jatindera Walia, Jaspal Subhlok, Thamar Solorio, Shishir Shah and Ioannis Konstantinidis.

“The biggest problem with video lectures is that it is difficult to find the information you are looking for,” said Jaspal Subhlok, professor of computer science in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Videopoints LLC founder and president.

Index-Caption-Search Feature for Video Lectures

In the past decade, Subhlok and his collaborators have worked out a way to index lecture videos, caption the speech and make the lecture files searchable. This way, if students have a specific question, or need more information on a specific topic, they can type in a search term to find the appropriate part of the lecture.

“Feedback has consistently shown this is a valuable, useful tool for students and professors,” Subhlok said.

In addition to the index-caption-search capability, these video lectures are also segmented into different topics. If a student needs to revisit a particular part of a lecture, they can easily find the right video section.

Increasing Access to Educational Videos

This video lecture capability has expanded to include many major courses at UH, including introductory science classes and upper-level computer science courses. It has proved to be an exceptionally popular feature, one which helps students prepare for exams.

“This is about taking a product that has been of great value to students and faculty at UH, and making it accessible to other universities,” said Ioannis Konstantinidis, chief operating officer and principal investigator for the NSF SBIR Phase I grant. “This grant gives us the space to figure out how to commercialize this program and make it sustainable.”

Videopoints LLC co-founders include Shishir Shah, professor of computer science, and Thamar Solorio, associate professor of computer science. Shah serves as vice president of operations and Solorio serves as vice president of research and development.

Moving forward, Videopoints LLC will work out a business model, one with an emphasis on low costs for students. They will also work on additional offerings, including a summarization feature, which will provide one-page summaries for lecture topics.

“We want to improve education for students beyond UH,” Subhlok said.

Other members of Videopoints LLC include chief technical officer Jatindera Walia, who is the director of information technology for the UH Center for Academic Support and Assessment, along with computer science graduate students M. Rajiur Rahman and R. Shalini Koka.

- Rachel Fairbank, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics