Visual search problems are everywhere (especially if you happen to study visual search). First, I will give a rationale for why we have to search at all. Why isn’t “Where’s Waldo” just “There’s Waldo”. Then I will turn to research inspired by three real world search tasks.
1) Hybrid search: How long would it take you to determine that none of your 1000 Facebook friends were in this picture of 100 people at a party? This is a combination of a visual search and a memory search. How do you do that? 2) Foraging: You are picking berries. When is it time to move to the next bush? Probably not when you have picked every berry on this bush, but what are the rules and what happens when the world changes? 3) Prevalence effects: What happens if you as searching for something that is almost never there: A bomb in luggage, a tumor in a mammogram?
I hope to convince you that we search because we have to and we study search because it is both interesting and important.