Microsoft has filed a U.S. patent application on October 13 titled “Applying a Model of Persona to Search Results,” that outlines a search system that would allow users to search the web as their favorite celebrity. The abstract of the application reads:
“A data search and retrieval system that, in response to a search query, applies a model to search results to generate information to be returned to a user. The model may define characteristics of a persona such that the application of the model generates information consistent with the persona. A persona may be an individual person or a group of people having shared characteristics. A user may be presented with a list of identifiers of available models of personae. When the user selects a model of a particular persona to be applied, the information generated in return to the user may be consistent with the characteristics associated with the selected persona.”
How would it work? Microsoft may expand the functionality and utility of search systems by incorporating into a search stack of a search system components that can select and apply one or more models characterizing data to be provided to a user in the user’s context. In response to a search query, or other input identifying user context, the system may identify a model to apply in generating information for the user. The model may be selected based on user context information, that may include the search query itself or data generated by a search engine applying the search query to select web pages.
Once a model is selected, a model application engine may apply the model to generate information to be provided to the user. A model may include one or more elements, at least some of which define a computation to be performed based on data dynamically identified for the user’s context. For example, application of the model may result in a computation that has inputs relating to terms in the search query or data generated by a search engine applying the search query. The output of the computation may be provided to the user as a result of the search query, either alone or in conjunction with data located by a search engine or other dynamically generated data.
Applying models in a search stack may greatly expand the type of information that may be returned to a user and may be applied in many different contexts.
Microsoft explains, for example, a model may include an equation, defining computation of calorie content from a recipe. “Such a model may be applied in response to a query requesting recipes such that, in addition to receiving content representing recipes found on web pages, a user may receive calorie content, even though that information was not included on the web pages. As another example, a model may include a formula for computing commuting distance or time from a location. Such a model may be applied in response to a query requesting information on houses for sale such that, in addition to receiving a listing of houses for sale identified as a result of a search, a user may receive commuting information with each house.”