In its latest attempt to catch Google in the search arena, Microsoft has added a new capability called Visual Search to its three-month old search engine Bing.com, a feature that enables web users to browse search results using images instead of text.
The new feature would employ the company’s signature Silverlight browser-based technology to present search results in the form of pictures instead of traditional blue text links.
With Visual search, Bing users can “visualise” their search queries using a button present there on the main page of Bing, and subsequently are presented with results in the guise of thumbnail images.
As of now, Bing Visual Search is still in beta stage and is restricted to around 50 specific search categories, including mobile phones, digital cameras, popular TV shows, the FBI’s list of 10 most wanted criminals, NFL and MLB players, just to name a few.
Microsoft unleashed the feature at Techcrunch 50, a tech conference in San Francisco, and noted it will be bringing more search categories, along with fully incorporating Visual Search into Bing by the end of this month.
A study by the software giant has revealed that users can process image results 20 percent faster than that of text-based search results, according to Bing product manager Todd Schwartz.
“Visual search is a new way to formulate and refine your search queries through imagery, particularly for sets of results that tend to be more structured”, Schwartz added.
Interesting that visual computing is growing stronger. That said, displaying search results as images is quite resource consuming (both in terms of bandwidth and computing power). One can be sure that Apple's coverflow and image based browser technologies like Cooliris have made it imperative for Microsoft to introduce such a technology.