Microsoft’s U.S. patent application, “Applying a Model of Persona to Search Results,” outlines a search system that would allow users to search the web as their favorite celebrity. Other possible uses for the technology include searching based on a person or groups characteristics, or even the preferences of a friend.
Published October 13, the application paves the way for Microsoft to develop a search method that would bring back results as they would appear to, say, Miley Cyrus, Anna Wintour, or my own favorite superstar, Mary Catherine Gallagher.
How would it work? Microsoft could design a system that gives users a list of characteristics that act as identifiers for predetermined personas, ie.: supermodel, fashionista, football quarterback. The persona could also be that of a person, such as Lindsay Lohan or Mike Tyson. A new component in the search stack would generate and filter results to bring back results as that persona would see.
While this persona model of search could certainly be useful in the fashion and music realms, who else could benefit?
One section of the patent describes a model that includes an equation that calculates the caloric content of a recipe, for example. In this instance, the user is searching for recipes with a certain calorie content and the engine is able to calculate that information even if it is not given on the page. Another example within the application would show commuting distances to work when the user is searching homes for sale. Patients could even upload test results and have the engine calculate how their results compare to those of the general population.
Microsoft explains how this could benefit the health care system, an area Google doesn’t care to touch. “Such a model may be applied in a search system coupled to an intranet in a hospital such that, when a search is conducted for lab results of a patient, a clinician may receive, in addition to lab results for the patient, comparative data characterizing the results based on an analysis of lab results in medical records for other users returned as a result of the search.”
There are no indications that Microsoft plans to develop the technology outlined in the patent, as applications are filed all the time. However, we can see that the implications could be far reaching and extend beyond helping users find a dress or shoes their favorite star is wearing.
What do you think of the patent application? Would this type of search be beneficial and could it propel Microsoft into a greater search market share? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Miley Cyrus The Ultimate Fan Site
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