Google Boffin Predicts A Speech And Visual Lead Future For Search

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A Google boffin has high hopes the search engine will one day be able to respond when a user puts in a query such as "book me a trip to Washington, DC".

In an interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal, Google Research Fellow Jeff Dean said he believes search will be a very different beast over the next decade.

His team is currently working on 'big problems' such as how exactly Google would be able to respond to such questions as "please book me a trip to Washington DC.

He said: "That's a very high-level set of instructions. And if you're a human, you'd ask me a bunch of follow-up questions, "What hotel do you want to stay at?" "Do you mind a layover?" – that sort of thing.

"I don't think we have a good idea of how to break it down into a set of follow-up questions to make a manageable process for a computer to solve that problem. The search team often talks about this as the “conversational search problem."

Google already has conversational search on its Chrome browser, which allows users to ask a sequence of questions such as who is David Cameron, where is he from and the like - the function is clever enough to process the 'he' in the second string refers to in his instance David Cameron.

In the interview, Dean thinks in terms of search engine marketing, the advances in voice search could create a whole avenue of opportunities and create a very realistic possibility one day users would only use voice-based search. He believes via Google Glass there could even be a time when visual search is conducted continuously via the camera on the slick new device.

Dean has been with the Internet giant since mid-1999 and according to his Google profile has an interest in large-scale distributed systems. compression techniques and information retrieval amongst other things.

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