US software giant Microsoft unveiled a twist on the Internet search experience today with a new feature which allows Web surfers to search using image galleries instead of text links.
Microsoft, which teamed up with Yahoo! in July in a bid to challenge Internet search giant Google, rolled out a beta, or test, version of the feature at the TechCrunch50 technology conference in San Francisco.
Microsoft senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi described “Visual Search,” which is being built into the company’s recently launched new search engine Bing, as a “more graphical way to search and discover information.”
“Visual Search” allows users to conduct certain searches faster than the traditional image search offered by rival Google and other search engines.
Microsoft, in a blog post, said a study conducted by Microsoft Research found that consumers can process results with images 20 per cent faster than text only results.
“It’s like searching through a large online catalogue,” Microsoft said.
A search at bing.com/visualsearch 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.