Microsoft is set to arm its Bing search engine with a new feature, called ‘Visual Search’, as the software giant continues its battle with market leader Google.
Visual Search, announced at the TechCrunch 50 event in San Francisco, is an image-based search feature that allows users to find info with images as opposed to text.
From entering search terms on the Bing website, users will be allowed to see the results as a “visual online catalogue”.
Though in appearance it appears similar to the galleries of Google Image Search (and indeed Bing’s own image search), the displayed pictures on Visual Search will be interconnected. When an image is highlighted by the user, related pictures will appear, allowing users to tunnel through to find the information they’re looking for.
A Microsoft blog post on the Bing website details a scenario in which Bing Visual Search could perhaps have an advantage over standard text searching.
“How many times have you seen a movie trailer and forgotten the name of it the next day?” it asks. “You go online to search for it but you can’t seem to find the movie with “what’s-his-name” in it anywhere but you can picture the actor in your head.”
“[With Visual Search], click on “Movies” and scroll through the imagery to find “what’s-his-name.” Now that you found it, hover your mouse over the movie to view details including title, rating, reviews, and how much it grossed at the box office, all right under the search box. Think about how much time you saved using Visual Search.”
A study conducted by Microsoft claims that can process results with images 20 per cent faster than text only results. “So it’s clear that images play a big part in helping consumer’s with a variety of search activities,” the company said.
The new feature is Microsoft’s newest move to chop down the towering web presence that Google has enjoyed in the last decade. Recent statistics showed Google’s search engine held 64.6 per cent stake in US search engine traffic. Yahoo held 16 per cent, while Bing, though still climbing hit 10.7 percent.
Bing’s Visual Search engine is available in the US at beta stage, though access is restricted globally, for now.