Asterpix Says Forget Hypertext, Think Hypervideo

One of the great things about the Web is the ability to link to a Web page, or a part of a Web page, from anywhere. Asterpix, a San Jose, Calif.-based startup, wants to bring that same ease of use to the world of video. The company’s technology -– which it calls hypervideo — gives authors the ability to link directly to objects displayed inside video clips.

These so called hotspots track the “objects” linked throughout the entire video clip. So for instance, when explaining the Coverflow features of the iPhone, one can link directly to the relevant point in the video right from the blog post. Hotspots are designated with blinking circles; click on them in the video to access the author’s notes, tags and target links. (See this example)

The service doesn’t require you to download separate software on the desktop. Simply sign up and embed the videos as you would from any video source such as YouTube, MetaCafe, or Blip. Asterpix adds a separate invisible layer on top of the video that contains all the metadata (aka relevant linking information). Then just go ahead and drop it in your blog or on your MySpace page.

Asterpix is less than a year old and is backed by New Enterprise Associates; so far it’s raised $4 million in one round of financing. CEO Nat Kausik, who in his past life created a handful of successful networking-related startups, told us that in order to gain traction, the company will initially adopt a widget strategy. He feels that MySpace and other social networks are going to be fertile ground for his service. He was also candid enough to say that the business model of this company is evolving.

Asterpix’s technology could have big implications for online video-related advertising as it would allow advertisers to embed hotspots around products of high commercial value. For instance, Le Bron James videos could link his shoes to Nike (NKE) stores, or Tiger Woods clips could help push golf clubs or even apparel.

“Every object is now clickable and searchable,” says Kausik. Google AdWords, for instance can drive traffic right to the relevant spot in a video clip, giving people a sense of what they are buying. “We hope this will help unlock the monetization of video.”

Among the existing players in this space, Eline Technologies of Vancouver, B.C., is doing brisk business with its VideoClix software. We also recently covered Delivery Agent. Others, such as Tandberg and Microsoft (MSFT), are working on their own hypervideo technologies — all in hope of unlocking the ad potential of online video. Kausik, however, is betting that his little company will win the sweepstakes.