Microsoft has expanded Bing's image search capabilities, enabling users to not only find images online that fit their criteria but also learn more about the objects contained in those images.
Bing's Visual Search feature now includes a new object recognition option called Detailed View that allows users to select and search for items within a photo. The option appears as a magnifying glass icon near the top left of a selected image. Once clicked, users can zero in on an object by drawing or resizing a selection box around it.
In the background, Bing runs a search on the selected item, along with shopping links. Users can also search for similar-looking items by clicking the Related Images option. A technical explanation of how the feature works and the image processing technologies that power it area available in this blog post that explores the new capabilities in the context of home decorating ideas.
Microsoft plans on refining the feature, the company announced, including the ability to select objects without first drawing a box around them. More tools to help users filter their results are also in the works.
The Bing Visual Search capabilities follow last month's addition of new satellite imagery encompassing 290 cities in Canada, France, India, Italy, Japan and Spain. Collected in partnership with plane manufacturer Airbus, the images offer detailed views of 21,000 square kilometers' worth of urban areas, including Iwata, Japan and Pisa, Italy. Bing users can explore those cities now with a quick search.
For outdoor lovers, Microsoft recently added the ability to find, explore and compare hiking trails. A quick search of "trails by me" generates a handful of visual results that users can click for more information, including a trail's difficulty, weather conditions and reviews.
The software maker is also turning Bing into a bot search engine of sorts. Visitors can now use the search engine to find bots for Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram and Skype. Microsoft also recently unveiled Bing InfoBot, which uses the company's deep learning technologies to automatically create chatbots based on the information contained in a website.
Microsoft rival Google is also banking on artificial intelligence (AI) to help improve the search experience for its users.
During his company's I/O conference last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced an AI-enhanced search feature that uses machine learning to help job seekers find suitable positions faster. Using machine learning, the new Google for Jobs feature categorizes open positions that more closely match their skills and experience, saving time for everyone involved.
Further, Google for Jobs allows users to take other criteria, like commute times, into account. When a promising job is found, users will be able to apply for jobs with a single click.
"Whether you are in a community college looking for a barista job, a teacher who is relocating across the country and wants a teaching job or someone looking for a job in construction, the product should do a great job in bringing that information to you," said Pichai.