Microsoft unveiled a new “visual search” function for Bing that allows users to capture a picture of something with their smartphone and search for it online. Users will now be able to discover information about objects captured in images without have to type a handful of words into the search bar.
Where is it available?
The new feature is available in a host of apps. Visual search is found on the standalone Bing app on iOS and Android, Microsoft Launcher on Android, Microsoft Edge on Android, and will soon be available in Edge on iOS. This cool new feature can search famous landmarks, various species of plants and flowers, and possibly flags of countries of the world.
“Sometimes, it is almost impossible to describe what you want to search for using words,” explained Vince Leung, product lead for Bing Images at Microsoft.
How does it work?
Visual search will try to name what it sees, and in the case of consumer goods, will recommend places to purchase them online. John Roach in a blog post, identified such a situation. “…perhaps you’re in the market for a new couch and spot one you like in a high-end home furnishing store, but the price tag is beyond your budget. By taking a picture of the couch, Bing’s Visual Search can help you find couches that match the style with prices that may meet your budget.”
The visual search functionality uses Microsoft’s computer vision algorithms, including datasets with many numbers of labelled images and images around the web. From these images, the algorithms are able to distinguish dogs from cats and roses from daisies.
Although visual search is becoming immensely popular among big tech companies like Microsoft and Google, the features can become a let-down in real life. Nevertheless, its destined to become better as the technology improves. Soon, the entire world will be searchable.