Microsoft’s Bing Would Now Let Users Browse Results Using Pictures Instead Of Text

by Aruna on Sep 18 2009 9:50 AM

Reports say that software giant Microsoft has introduced visual search for its search engine, in order to further set itself apart from market leader Google.

According to a report by BBC News, the new feature will let users browse results using pictures instead of text.

Visual search will concentrate on four main areas: travel, health, leisure and shopping.

''The whole concept is that the world of search is going to change,'' said Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi.

''There will be a more graphic way people will search, and it will pivot how people search,'' said Mehdi, the firm's senior vice president of online services.

Microsoft also claimed that ''Visual Search'' allows users to conduct certain searches faster than the traditional image search offered by rival Google and other search engines.

In a blog post, the company said a study it conducted found that consumers can process results with images 20 percent faster than text only results.

''It's like searching through a large online catalog,'' Microsoft said.

As users enter search terms, a link at the top of the first page of results lets you choose to 'visualize' what Bing has found.

Click on the link and a display or gallery of related images will pop up.

A search at for ''digital cameras,'' for example, returns a gallery of thumbnail pictures of digital cameras which can then be filtered by manufacturer or by price, displaying a new set of images.

Hovering over a particular image or clicking on it will provide information about that particular product and the images rearrange themselves on the page as a search query is refined ''A thousand words''.

At the moment, only a small number of topics will return a visual display. These centre around popular categories like entertainment, famous people, shopping and sports.

''Where visual search really helps is in areas like travel or e-commerce, shopping or even the movies,'' Don Dodge, Microsoft's director of business development told the BBC.

Microsoft said that it will be expanding visual search over the coming months.

''Your brain works faster on a picture than it does on text so a picture really is worth a thousand words,'' it said.