Technology Review reports that Yahoo! Research has come up with a new algorithm that, rather than give you the shortest way possible between two way-points, will give you the most beautiful route to get to your destination.
Quercia and co begin by creating a database of images of various parts of the centre of London taken from Google Street View and Geograph, both of which have reasonably consistent standards of images. They then crowdsourced opinions about the beauty of each location using a website called UrbanGems.org.
Each visitor to UrbanGems sees two photographs and chooses the one which shows the more beautiful location. That gives the team a crowdsourced opinion about the beauty of each location. They then plot each of these locations and their beauty score on a map which they use to provide directions.
The idea here is that the user enters a start and end location and an algorithm then finds the most beautiful route, rather than the shortest one. It does this by searching through every possible route, adding the beauty scores for each and choosing the one that ranks highest.
Quercia and co say that on average these routes turn out to be just 12 per cent longer than the shortest routes, which makes them reasonable alternatives for a pedestrian.
You can read the full paper here.
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