Bing: Now With Visual Search
Hoping to further differentiate its new Bing search engine from market leader Google, Microsoft is moving away from the proverbial “10 blue links” we so often associate with the search experience. During a presentation at the TechCrunch 50 event in San Francisco, the company announced Bing Visual Search, a Silverlight-based feature that replaces those links with images.
“A study conducted by Microsoft Research shows that consumers can process results with images 20% faster than text only results,” Microsoft’s Todd Schwartz explained. “So it’s clear that images play a big part in helping consumers with a variety of search activities….Visual Search allows you to quickly scroll through the galleries or do a one-click refinement using the quick tabs on the left, which are specifically relevant to the type of results you are browsing through.”
Think of Microsoft’s innovation as iTunes Cover Flow for search. And though it currently works only for mainstream queries (celebrities, dog breeds, iPhone apps, FBI’s Most Wanted, etc.) it’s quite impressive. And if Microsoft (MSFT) works quickly to extend it beyond its currently limited purview, Visual Search could do much to differentiate Bing from Google (GOOG). Certainly, Google doesn’t offer anything quite like it at the moment.