Bing! Hunch! Decision Engine!

By eric

I know, the title is an awful play on Batman from the 60s, but I thought it was funny, so tough. Anyway, Bing as most of you know is Microsoft‘s attempt to fix search (if you think search is actually broken, but that’s a whole other post).

Bing (which for those of you who don’t know is: Bing Is Not Google) is touting itself as a decision engine. If I understand what a decision engine does correctly, it helps you take a bunch of variables related to the outcome and depending on your feelings about those variables, helps you to get to the end state (a decision).

(overly simplified) example: Should I live in New York City?
Variables: Noise, Transportation, Money
Q 1: Do you mind a lot of noise at night?
A 1: Yes, New York City is fine.
Q 2: Do you like driving everywhere?
A 2: Yes I like driving. New York City is better for people who like mass transportation. Parking and timeliness of movement can be a problem.
Q 3: Do you have the money to live in New York City?
A 3: New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. No, I don’t make enough to live in New York City.
Outcome: 2 of 3 answers are contrary to living in New York City. Therefore you should probably not live in New York City.

I don’t see how Bing does this for you.

Enter Hunch. Hunch is an actual decision engine (or a much closer version than Bing). Just to give you an idea of how Hunch works, I decided to ask it whether I should get a netbook or a laptop (even though I know full I need a laptop and I love my MacBook Pro). This is what Hunch did for me.

Using multiple choice questions for everything, Hunch asked me about my usage plans. I told Hunch that I need it for photos, videos, music, etc. Then Hunch asked me how much I would be willing to pay. I need power and I know that comes at a cost, so I told Hunch greater than $1200. Hunch asked me about my travel habits and I said I travel a lot, but I still need power. It asked me about an OS (which I of course said Mac). It asked me about my keyboard size preference, which I prefer a larger keyboard. Finally it asked me whether this would be my primary computer. I said yes. It came up with the suggestion that there is an 85% chance that I should get a MacBook Pro based on my needs. Sounds good to me :). Hunch will even tell you why it came to that conclusion (based on your answers).

As an aside (since I am an email administrator by day), I found it interesting that Hunch, when sending their welcome email, sends a vcard to ensure that their email address is properly added to your contacts. And it is located just a few blocks from my office. Small world.

I am really excited for this product to go fully live. I think it is an absolutely outstanding engine and once live will be a great asset to the web (no I am not being paid to say that). I just think that its about time stuff like this happened. Now if they can just get the experts involved for people who want more advanced information…

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