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Xbox Search with Bing and Voice

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Xbox One uses Bing search in a variety of ways. Gamers can use vocal searches to look for games, music, or movies, or they can use browser-based searches to find more general information. This article discusses how to perform both search types, as well as when it is appropriate to perform each type of search.
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Since 2009, Microsoft has been investing a considerable amount of resources into a technology known as Deep Learning. Deep Learning is a technology for speech recognition on an industrial scale.  Although Microsoft has put Deep Learning technology to work in a number of their products, Xbox One might just be the best fit for the technology.

Speech recognition is an integral part of the Xbox One interface. In fact, you can control nearly every aspect of the Xbox One interface with your voice. That is not to say that you can’t use the Xbox controller; the controller still has its place. In some cases using the controller provides a completely different experience than using the speech interface. This is especially true for Bing searches. As you will see later on, the scope of the search varies considerably depending on which interface you use.

Regardless of which search method you choose to use, you will need to sign into your Xbox Live account before attempting a search.

Bing Search from the Controller

To perform a Bing search from your controller, go to the Home screen and then click My Games and Apps, followed by Internet Explorer. If this is the first time that you have used Internet Explorer, you will have to go through a brief setup process prior to using it.

When you open Internet Explorer, you should be taken straight to Bing. If for some reason Internet Explorer defaults to a different website, you can access the Internet Explorer address bar by pressing the View button on your controller. The View button is the button that is located at the seven o’clock position from the lighted X button.

Once you are on Bing, use your controller’s left thumb stick to move the cursor to Bing’s search field and then press the A button. This will bring up the on-screen keyboard that you can use to enter your search query. Simply use the thumb pad to move from letter to letter and then press the A button to select the letter that you want to type.

As you type, Bing will suggest search queries. If you want to use one of Bing’s suggestions, use the left thumb stick to navigate to the suggested search term that you want to use and then press the A button.

Voice Search

Although you can perform a Bing search using the Xbox controller, entering long search queries through the Xbox controller can be a little bit tedious. As such, it might be easier to perform a voice search. Voice searches make use of Xbox One’s Kinect controller, but they are more limited than a browser-based Bing search.

When you use Bing through Internet Explorer, you can search for anything that you want. When you perform a verbal Bing search however, your search results are limited to things like movies, music, and games.

For example, if you perform a verbal search on “Windows Server 2012” (which is a Microsoft product), Bing will not find any results. On the other hand, if you perform a Bing search on “Need for Speed” the result list includes the game Need for Speed Rivals and the Need for Speed movie. In addition, the search results suggest other movies that you might like. For example, because Need for Speed is a car movie, Bing also suggested The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift. Bing also lists items related to games. For instance, in addition to listing Need for Speed Rivals, Bing displays the Need for Speed Rivals Timesaver Pack and the Need for Speed Rivals Loaded Garage Pack.

The thing that makes verbal searching so easy is that there is no need to navigate the Xbox One interface. You can perform a search by using a single command.  That command is “Xbox, Bing.” When you say this command, Xbox will ask you what you want to search for, and then you say your search term (Need for Speed, Forza Motorsports, and so on).

My experience with Bing voice search has been that the search engine works pretty well, so long as you stick to searching for things that the search engine knows about. However, if you throw something really random at the voice search, the results can be less useful. As previously mentioned, I tried searching for “Windows Server 2012.” Xbox One had no trouble understanding me, although it did not deliver any search results. However, I also tried searching for “TechNet,”  another Microsoft product. Xbox One kept interpreting “TechNet” as “Panda.” When I stuck to searching for things like games and movies, Xbox One did not have any trouble understanding what I was saying.

Of course this raises the question of what you can do if you are searching for a game, movie, or music and Xbox One has trouble understanding you. In this type of situation, there are a few things that you can do. First, eliminate excess background noise. The voice search probably isn’t going to work very well if you have a radio or TV turned on, or if someone else in the room is talking. Similarly, if someone is mowing the lawn right outside the window, that background noise will probably be sufficient to confuse Xbox.

If audio contamination isn’t an issue, try shortening your search to the minimum number of words possible. For example, rather than searching for “Need for Speed Rivals Loaded Garage Pack” you might instead simply search for “Need for Speed” and trust Xbox One to include the Loaded Garage Pack in the search results.

If shortening your search phrase does not work, you probably need to rerun the Kinect audio calibration. Before doing so, however, make sure that the Kinect sensor is in a location in which the microphone is not blocked and that it is not sitting on a vibrating surface.

Conclusion

Xbox One’s search capabilities are very useful. If you want to quickly find a movie or a game, then performing a verbal Bing search will deliver results almost immediately. Of course you can also use the Web browser for more general searches.

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