Microsoft's ChatGPT-powered Bing AI just got a really useful new feature

A laptop screen showing the new ChatGPT-powered Bing search engine
Bing's ChatGPT tool only likes small talk, it seems. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is in the process of adding a new feature to its Bing chatbot that will considerably increase the utility value of the AI, namely image recognition.

Bing Vision is being tested with a small number of chatbot users at present, as Neowin reports, and it lets those folks upload an image for a query. In other words, instead of typing text, you can sling the AI a picture, and it’ll identify it and provide information on the image.

Neowin flags up some of the people on Twitter who’ve got to play with Bing Vision, and their results include the chatbot identifying an Egyptian temple from a photo, which is a good example of how you might be able to use the facility.

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In another instance, a scan of a maths equation was fed to the chatbot which correctly identified it as the ‘Schrodinger equation’, and there’s a further example where a humorous cartoon is analyzed and explained by the AI.

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to get Bing AI to flex its image recognition muscles, that’s because only a niche set of users are getting the feature right now, as mentioned at the outset. We’re told by Microsoft’s head of advertising and web services, Mikhail Parakhin, that it’s currently just over 10% of the user base.

Analysis: Bing Vision is coming to everyone soon

You’re pretty lucky if you’ve got this image recognition system enabled, then, as not many folks have at this point. Do note that it is only available on desktop PCs, by the way, as Bing Vision isn’t yet being offered on mobile devices.

Clearly, this is a useful extra string to the bow of the AI that can help in all sorts of potential ways for image-based queries, as we can see from those who’ve already tried it out on Twitter.

See a picture of a beautiful beach, lake, mountain, or town, and wonder where it is? Chuck that image at Bing and it should hopefully be able to tell you not just the location, but further details, say, on how you might plan a trip there.

The feature should be much more broadly rolled out in a few weeks, Parakhin tells us, and that will include mobile users too – in fact, it should arrive for everyone by then. Good stuff.

Microsoft is working at a pretty fast pace to expand the capabilities of Bing AI, which isn’t surprising given that AI is the talk of the town right now. Microsoft just ushered in voice input for desktop PCs (previously this was mobile-only), as well as improving this feature for mobiles (and adding an iOS widget for Bing Chat, to boot).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).