Here at TechCrunch50, Microsoft search honcho Yusef Mehdi just announced Bing Visual Search, a new feature which is supposed to be going live any moment now at http://www.bing.com/visualsearch. (Actually, it seems to have gone live and then stopped working again, at least for me–and oops, now it’s working again. Sort of. Okay, now it’s broken again.)
It’s a pretty clever feature that displays results as thumbnail images of stuff–cameras, handbags, movies, U.S. presidents, athletes, dogs, and a whole lot more. The images fly into place, and if you refine your search (say, to cameras of a certain megapixel range) they rearrange themselves onscreen. It’s unquestionably an eye-catching effect and a fun way to discover information; it also helps reinforce part of Bing’s apparent strategy, which is to be a far splashier search engine than the intentionally plain-jane Google. And in cases when aesthetics are the overriding aspect of your search–such as with handbags–it might be the single best way to browse results.
Visual search is apparently only available for subjects that Microsoft has prepped for the service, but dozens are available and the company says it’s working on more.)
More thoughts on Visual Search once I can get it to work reliably for more than a moment or two at a time–for now, after the jump, a few fuzzy photos from the TechCrunch stage.