Microsoft released their Visual Search beta on Bing this morning. It’s pretty cool, particularly if you are a visual person. I played around with some of the categories they had listed to show off the application. One category, dog breeds, really shows how this software shines, compared to doing searches on Google. I’ve done this search before when trying to show what certain breeds of dogs look like, for my kids. Visual search is cool. Click on dog breeds and up come boxes with the individual dogs in them, just like if you pulled open a big file drawer and could see all the files. Go and try it.
Easily laid out to help, the screen allows you to sort by size of dog, either by clicking on a “sort by size button” at the top, or sliding a scroll bar labeled as such down the side. On the left side are popular subcategories that some one might want to click on, such as “most obedient”, “hypoallergenic”, etc., Below that are sub categories under the heading “narrow the search”. For example, categories include grooming needs, size, temperament, etc. Once you narrow your search, then you get links to the best choice for what you are looking for.
I loved it. But it’s more than that. The visual component is what got me. Let’s take “popular books” as a category. Sometimes you know the author or the name of the book, but sometimes you have just seen a book around and can’t remember either of those. Click on “popular books” and up come dozens of covers. I instantly recognized several my fellow airplane passengers had been reading last week on a plane with me.
While just playing with it seems like a toy, it does have the potential for enhancing unified communications and mobility applications, particularly multi-modal applications. Giving people visual choices, even on a small screen can speed up their ability to make selections, and the visual component spurs memory recall. I’d like to see how developers will incorporate this function into applications.
For now I have to quell my desire to go to Barnes and Noble.com rather than work. :) I now have to quell my desire to play longer with Visual Search. It’s fun and useful. Oh oh, I hear “greatest movies” calling me. Back to work.