One of the new improvements that Microsoft introduces in their search engine Bing is a Silverlight driven visual search engine. Visual search meaning that pictures will be used to display and navigate the search results instead of text and text links. The benefit is a better search experiment with the limitation that it only works for specific topics and not every search. Microsoft has created roughly 30 different visual search niches in the categories entertainment, famous people, reference, shopping and sports. The shopping category contains the visual search topics cell phones, digital cameras, new cars, handbags and HDTVs.
A click on any topic will open the results in an image grid. The results are automatically sorted. The cell phone results page for instance sorts the different cell phones by brand. Hovering over a cell phone will display a search term in the Bing search box; A click will perform a normal search in Bing for the search term.
Various sorting options are provided in a drop down menu at the top. Cell phones can for example be sorted by Bing popularity or contract price while the movies in theater can be sorted by release date, title, metacritic rating or weekend box office earnings.
The search engine will automatically sort the results without reloading the page. Bing’s visual search can be a comfortable way of exploring specific information. It is handy for Internet users who want to research specific topics like movies that are currently playing in cinema, popular books, top iPhone apps and dog breeds. This is especially a good solution for users who do not know where to look for this information. Internet veterans usually know the websites that they have to open to find the information that they are looking for.
Bing Visual Search (link) is an interesting concept but it is currently limited to a few dozen popular topics, probably to ensure that the quality of the results remains high. It is probably not going to be introduced on a larger scale in the near future.