As we all know, the search industry was built on keywords, links and labels –nouns pointing to static pages. This approach is great for finding sites but doesn’t reflect the modern state of the internet. Today’s web is unimaginably vast, encompassing tens of trillions of web pages housing pictures, videos and the digital footprints of billions of people spread across the world. At Bing we believe that search should be more than a collection of blue links pointing to pages around the web. We believe search should also be a reflection of the actual world which why we introduced Snapshot, which enables answers and actions at a glance in the center column of the search results page. The result is a richer set of search results to help you better understand and explore the real world.
The underlying technology for Snapshot is designed to develop deep understanding of the world around us not only as a collection of entities (people, places and things) but also the relationships between those entities. Inside the Bing engineering team, we call this technology Satori, which means “understanding” in Japanese. Satori currently contains over 22 billion entities and their attributes and is growing every day.
Bing.com and Snapshot
When you search for a person, place, or thing Bing enriches your search results with relevant information about that entity, how it relates to other entities in our database and key actions you might want to take. For example, Bing knows who your favorite celebrity is married to, who wrote a Christmas Carol and where you can watch it on the web, how tall the tallest building in NY is, and can even name the most notable giraffes in history.
Windows Smart Search
Our entity understanding is what allows Smart Search to pull together facts, photos, files, and apps associated with a search. What gives entity understanding its real power is that it is more than just a list of facts, it is a mapping of real world relationships to the web. Bing strives to understand the world the way you do.
Entities and Apps
Our Bing Apps combine editorial information and the power of web applications with entity knowledge to give you a complete picture of the people, places, and things you care about.
Entity knowledge in Bing Food & Drink, for example, allows you to quickly sort through 1.5 million wines to find what you want – whether that be a well-regarded, dry Riesling or something young, red, and Chilean. This is possible because Bing knows the different characteristics of wine like sweet or dry taste, varietals, location, age, and even if it’s well-reviewed. Entity knowledge helps us know what the teams are in your favorite sports league so you can follow the rankings in Bing Sports or track the companies you hold stock in through Bing Finance, and those experiences are also available on your mobile device.
Similarly, the Windows Phone search experience takes entity understanding a step further; when looking at a movie, restaurant, or place, Bing is smart enough to find the applications you can use to buy a ticket, get a reservations, or figure out the best bus route. For instance, if you’re searching for “Desolation of Smaug” we will not only show you great results on where it is playing in your area but we’ll also display Fandango as a relevant app that can help you buy tickets.
Entities and Maps
When we say mapping the real world: we mean this literally. Mapping people, places and things means mapping both relationships and where something exists in the world; we call this the ‘spatial canvas’. Earlier this year we announced hundreds of terabytes of mapping imagery to Bing Maps. Then we released the Bing Maps preview, encompassing over 121 trillion pixels and hundreds more terabytes of imagery, which provides some of the most comprehensive, dynamic, 3D views of cities and landscape available in any mapping application.
Moving into the future, entity knowledge will greatly enhance our mapping experiences. While our Bing Maps Preview app already takes advantage of Satori to deliver smart features like Local Scout, we have a vision for maps where everything is annotated with useful information: what buildings are called, what stores are in them, how to get in touch with those stores and when they are open. Much of this exists today in our current experiences, but further integrating entity knowledge into maps will transform digital maps from the visual representation they are today to a deep model of what the world is like.
Another element of how maps and entities will converge is putting map-construction technology in the hands of our users. The newly released Photosynth technology maps entities in a different, breathtaking way, and does just that, letting everyone in the world capture everything in the world in glorious 3D.
Moving forward, you will see us mapping more of everything – both the web and the real world. It is as much about understanding the context of a searcher’s query as giving you a better map. When we understand the real world, we understand what you’re asking – and that is where search magic happens.
Here’s to a great 2014!
– The Bing Team