Bing reintroduced visual search Thursday by expanding its image search tools with a product that allows searchers to look for items within a larger image.
Images on Bing’s search engine now have a small magnifying glass at the top left corner of the photo. Bing calls this the visual search button. Clicking on it brings up a box that searchers can adjust or redraw, similar to the editing tool in Adobe Photoshop.
The Bing team expects consumers to use the tool when shopping or looking for design inspiration. The visual image search will result in related products, but will also serve up related images based on the selection.
The tool enables users to drag the crop box, allowing searchers to adjust the image and refine the task. Each time the person adjusts the visual search box, Bing reruns the visual search using the selected portion of the image in the query.
The Bing team also explains how the search works. The technology first needs to understand the query and then "instead of query terms we need another way to represent the query-image," per Bing. "Once the query understanding phase is complete, the subsequent steps in the execution of the query are similar." Bing details them here at the end of the post.
Visual search has become a major focus for Pinterest -- to such an extent that the company recently signed on Microsoft LOOP founder and former Bing product and design director Lawrence Ripsher.
Google also allows searchers to search by images of art, places and animals. The feature enables people to explore the Web by beginning a Google search with an image from the Web or one from a personal collection. On Google, searchers must go to a specific browser feature and click the camera icon in the search box. The tool looks for similar images from across the Web.