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Yahoo Uses Crowdsourcing To Teach GPS To Find Scenic Routes

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(Frank Rothe/Getty Images)

(Frank Rothe/Getty Images)

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(CBS SF) — It’s the journey, not the destination that makes road trips memorable, and researchers at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona want to capitalize on that philosophy with a new method for measuring scenic routes to suggest directions.

Current mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest and quickest route, but beauty is beyond modern algorithms. Taking a detour through country roads to avoids the banality of eight-lane Interstates is tempting, but drivers more likely to get lost.

It inspired Yahoo researchers to parse through metadata of more than 5 million pictures in Flickr and Foursquare to capture which routes people find interesting and enjoyable, even if it took longer.

After converting votes from more than 3,300 individuals in London and Boston into quantitative measures of location perceptions, a smaller group of participants were asked to rate the researcher’s recommendations through photos.

In the end, all of the 30 participants in London preferred routes that were on average only 12 percent longer than the shortest path to a destination, but were more aesthetically pleasing.

It’s a preliminary analysis, and although it does not capture the full  experience of “being there,” researchers said it’s substantial start for building mobile application and test it out in more cities.

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