Yahoo Is Working on an Algorithm to Map the Scenic Route

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If you’re tired of the same boring but efficient route that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Maps recommend, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) might soon have an alternative that could make your commute a little more enjoyable.

Wired reports that Yahoo researchers, working in a lab in Barcelona, are building a maps application that takes users the scenic route. The abstract of a paper that describes the research, published by Daniele Quercia and Luca Maria Aiello of Yahoo and Rossano Schifanella of the University of Torino, explains that the software’s goal is to “automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant.”

The methodology, which relied on crowdsourced data is briefly explained: “To quantify the extent to which urban locations are pleasant, we use data from a crowd-sourcing platform that shows two street scenes in London (out of hundreds), and a user votes on which one looks more beautiful, quiet, and happy. We consider votes from more than 3.3K individuals and translate them into quantitative measures of location perceptions. We arrange those locations into a graph upon which we learn pleasant routes. Based on a quantitative validation, we find that, compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes and are indeed perceived to be more beautiful, quiet, and happy.”

The researchers used data from Urban Gems, a site that takes for its tagline the aspiration of “crowdsourcing quiet, beauty, and happiness.” The site asks users to view two photos side by side, comparing the two, and answering a question: “Which place do you find more beautiful?”; “Which place makes you happier?”; or “Which place do you find more quiet?” And 3,300 people compared streets in London. From the resulting data, the researchers mapped routes that passed by the highest-rated spots.

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