Here’s something nice: Researchers working out of a Yahoo lab in Barcelona are building a maps application that doesn’t just spit out the fastest path from A to B but instead endeavors to show you the most enjoyable one. What a concept! Is it too much to ask that the entire tech industry follow their lead?
The paper describing the effort, published last week, begins by stating what we already know: Today’s maps are very good at what they do. “When providing directions to a place, web and mobile mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest route,” our researchers write. This group had something different in mind–a map that can “automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant.”
The researchers–Daniele Quercia and Luca Maria Aiello from Yahoo!, and Rossano Schifanella from University of Torino, in Italy—started with crowdsourced data. Web users were shown two photographs of London streets and asked to choose which looked “more beautiful, quiet, and happy.” The researchers then aggregated those winning locations to create a new map of London–an alternate cartography weighted for human emotion. In tests, participants found that routes drawn from this map were indeed more pleasant, while adding just a few minutes to travel time.