Browse Prior Art Database

Search Refinement Using Contextual Choices

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000181468D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Apr-02
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Apr-02

Publishing Venue

Microsoft

Related People

Dan Javnozon: INVENTOR [+3]

Abstract

A search environment is provided for utilizing inferences about a user’s motivations for performing a search to refine the scope of the user’s search, thereby providing a more useful set of search results. Contextual choices are provided to the user that represent particular actions that the user may take in response to obtaining a desired search result. The user’s selection of one of the contextual choices can be used to refine the scope of the user’s search by referencing corresponding information that is dynamically updated to reflect user preferences, activities, and trends in user behaviors. By incorporating additional contextual information from a variety of sources, a user’s search experience can be enhanced and made more efficient. This contextual enhancement can be applied in a variety environments, including general search environments, searches on portable navigation devices, and searches of databases.

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search refinement using contextual choices

Searching for information often yields a host of potentially relevant results.  Contextual parameters are typically useful for narrowing the scope of a set of search results in many different environments such as, for example, web searching, searching databases, and searching for directions on portable navigation devices (PNDs).  In these and other scenarios, a user’s search is often motivated by the user’s desire or need to use the information for a particular purpose and, in many instances, the information for which the user is searching has the potential to be used for a myriad different purposes.

For example, one user may search the internet for the name of a restaurant that is useful in an academic survey of the distribution of restaurants within a given region, while another user may search for the name of a restaurant in hopes of finding a good meal for the evening.  A third user may search for the name of a restaurant that the user remembers seeing in the vicinity of a hotel at wish the user wishes to stay.  Suppose that each of these users begins their search experience by submitting to a search engine a search query containing the following search terms: “Italian restaurants, Villa riverfront.”  Each user’s query might be answered with a listing of dozens of Italian restaurants located in the Villa riverfront area and each user will have to refine the set of search results by clicking on various links, performing narrowing searches, or the like.  These methods can be time consuming and may not always result in the most helpful answer.

The present invention provides for narrowing a general or contextual search by incorporating a context parameter that represents an aspect of the user’s inferred intent.  To illustrate one search experience enhancement offered by the invention, now suppose that the search engine discussed above is equipped with an implementation of the invention.  By providing the user with a set of contextual choices designed to extract information about the user’s likely intent with regard to the search, the search engine can utilize the user’s response to infer the user’s intent and thereby narrow the set of search results according to the purpose that likely motivates the user’s inquiry.

Turning to FIG. 1, an illustrative screenshot is depicted that shows an exemplary search interface 100 that employs an aspect of the invention.  The search interface 100 includes a query input field 110, a set of options 112 that allow the user to refine the domain that is being searched, a search trigger button 114, and a set of contextual choices 116, 118, and 120 that are dynamically presented to the user.  The search interface 100 can be presented on a computing device, handheld device, mobile device, PND, information kios...