Radial menu love for Bing Visual Search prototype

Radial menus, otherwise known as pie menus, don’t get enough love and this prototype for Bing Visual Search proves it. Although a couple years old, this concept made by designer John DiMartile demonstrates an interesting wheel-based UI for Bing Visual Search, the feature for discovering subjects and topics. He notes,

Tasked with coming up with a compelling way to search through images on the new Bing search for Microsoft, we came up with several concepts and designs. The route I took was based on the concept of the Volvelle. It gave easy access to get to related content, as well as built you a trail of volvelles to see how your choices linked back to the original starting point. I designed and animated this concept, as well as animated the rest of the concepts for presentation purposes.

The Surface is the only Microsoft product I know to use a radial menu. As research and common sense shows, a radial menu has many advantages over the traditional list-based context menu, but for has seen little adoption beyond video games. I can only hope a future version of Windows will finally make the radial menu a common control.

24 insightful thoughts

  1. Didn’t Microsoft use radial menus on Origami? Or was that just for the keyboard?

  2. The Acer ICONIA has a similar menu called “Acer Ring” launched when you user five fingers gesture on the bottom touch screen

  3. I built a few radial menus in Silverlight for clients. The nice thing is that Silverlight makes it super easy with the PathListBox (also available in WPF), and some cleverly accelerated animations. It was always a success.


  4. How come I get the feeling that this will be a part of the new Windows 8 3D interface…hmmmmm. I’m thinking that the 3D interface will steal heavily from Surface as the Windows 8 interface that was shown at D9 stole from Windows Media Center and WP7…. yep…hmmm
    There was even a microsoft labs video demonstrating it. Cant remember the link. Sorry.

  5. Even if it looks nice, it is not so useful .. it is much slower that searching on google / google image .. or bing / bing image.
    It is nice to have visual search, but I do not think this would be efficient in the way presented

  6. “As research and common sense shows, a radial menu has many advantages over the traditional list-based context menu.”

    And as common sense and this video show, radial menus are annoying to read because at most only 50% of the text is oriented in a way that doesn’t require effort to read.

    Radial menus are nice visually, but they’re pretty cumbersome in real usage scenarios. There’s a reason the old list-based menus have been around for so long, and it isn’t stupidity as you seem to suggest.

    1. Well the options in the radial menu don’t just have to be text. They could also be icon or graphic representatation.

  7. InkSeine was the first piece of software from Microsoft that implemented context radial menus in such and advanced way. Later on they were in Codex (what would then become The Courier prototype) and of course Surface and finally in other MSFT Research multi-touch explorations like those that use pen and touch, etc.

    As a ui element on the other hand the first time saw one from Microsoft in a actual shipping product has to be the Windows XP Snipping Tool.

    I personally do like them and i think they are cool and heavily underused..

  8. The radial menu in this demo looked good in terms of movement & animation, but in terms of functionality and readability it’s a bit limited. If let’s say one of the search query is “arnold schwarzenegger” what will happen to the equally divided “pie”? If you notice they kind of killed the tracking and kerning of the word “Sports Car Racing” to make it fit.

    Having said that, I think radial menus have its place in the UI world, but IMHO it won’t work for search.

  9. This interface would rock on my Windows 7 Slate from HP – This is so “touch” ready!!!! Congrats to Microsoft, proving again that both Google and Apple suck like a Hoover.

  10. Tell me longzheng, do you work for Microsoft or have any of your friends working at Microsoft? The style of the propaganda you post reminds me of how Microsoft attempts brainwashes us all with it’s propaganda. Kind of reminds me in 1982 a few years after Microsoft were established, I was made redundant from a computing firm who had lost popularity, because Microsoft bought out the company and rebuilt the workforce by axing the current staff members and employing new staff. Two years later, and the name of the company no longer existed as it had become a department within Microsoft and you’d have never have guessed that the company I had worked for existed in the first place. I tried to reapply for my job after the takeover. Needless to say, I was rejected.

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