Feb 10, 2015 · 1 minute

Google will now answer common medical questions with the data-rich cards meant to provide information to consumers without requiring them to ever leave the company's site.

The cards will "represent real-life clinical knowledge" from a team of medical doctors and "high-quality medical sources across the web" fact-checked by Google and the Mayo Clinic.

This will allow consumers to receive answers to common queries -- such as "flu symptoms" or "what is measles?" -- directly from Google instead of the sites indexed by its search tool.

The effort is an expansion of Knowledge Graph, a feature Google introduced in May 2012 that uses these cards to display information about celebrities, landmarks, and other things.

The smarter Knowledge Graph gets, the better it can keep consumers in Google's web, further establishing the company as the go-to source of information for all its customers.

It's a bit like Twitter's Cards, which allow the company's users to add images, news snippets, and other media to the 140-character-long missives uploaded to the service.

All that media was previously shared via links to other websites. This turned Twitter into something of an online transport hub.

Knowledge Graph does something similar on a much larger scale. If Twitter is the regional bus system of online transport hubs, Google is something like an international airport.

Only now it's changing its service to be the destination instead of the transport system. Adding medical information to its cards alongside information from other apps, weather reports, and all kinds of other miscellanies could be a pretty good way for it to do just that.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]