Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand keywords. Today at TechCrunch50, Microsoft senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi announced a new visual search feature on Bing which returns results as an interactive gallery of images.
For instance, if you type in “dog breeds,” it organizes them for you in a grid of images that you can scroll through using a slider on the right. When you hover over a particular image, it enters the name of that dog breed in the search box. And you can re-order the image results by size, breed, exercise needs, and Bing popularity.
There are more than 100 visual galleries ranging from movies, books, and cars to products, animals, and sports teams. The sorting categories change each time. So for movies, you can filter by release date, title, or rating. Cars can be sorted visually by make, price or mileage.
When you resort, the images fly around the screen to find their new positions. The visual search acts as a showcase for Microsoft’s Silverlight technology, which makes the animations and visual rendering possible.
“The whole concept,” says Mehdi, “is that the world of search will change. There will be a more graphic way people will search, and it will pivot how people search.”
The judges were impressed with his demo. Ron Conway noted, “I think the huge winner here will be consumers because competition breeds innovation, and this nice little battle between Google and Microsoft is fantastic for consumers.”