Microsoft has updated its Bing mobile apps for iOS and Android with new visual search capabilities. This tool is powered by artificial intelligence, which enables the user to snap an image of an object, then get information about that object through a Bing search. At no point does the user have to input text, helping for those times when you don’t have quite the right words to search.
Maybe you see someone wearing a jacket that you like, but you’re not in a position to ask them who makes it. That’s where visual search comes in. With it, users can snap a picture of the jacket, then isolate it in the image and let Bing search for it. The app can now pull up online retail options for purchasing the item or something like it.
As well, Bing can retrieve information about objects and subjects within an image, whether it’s a type of flower you can’t identify, a vehicle you need the make and model of, or a landmark you don’t recognize. These are all instances where a visual search is ideal; it’s difficult to search for something you don’t know the name of.
The tool can also be used to find things that are visually similar to the object you’ve captured, such as lamps that look similar to a lamp you’ve photographed. In this way, Bing can help users shop for items that have the same aesthetics of an object that catches their eye, but not necessarily the same price tag.
According to Microsoft, it trained the Bing Visual Search tool using datasets with huge amounts of labeled images. Doing this enables the AI — computer vision algorithms in this case — to learn to recognize the objects and find things similar to them. Available now on Bing’s mobile apps.