Yahoo to map the most ’emotionally pleasant’ routes soon

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Yahoo is likely trying to shake the Mapping services market ruled by Google, with an all new algorithm that suggests, not only the shortest route avoiding traffic across the city, but also the most beautiful route to the destination.

Daniele Quercia and Luca Maria Aiello of Yahoo Labs in Barcelona in collaboration with the University of Torino’s Rossano Schifanella, have come up with an approach to develop a mapping algorithm to help users find the most “emotionally pleasant” routes available on their way toward their destination.

The team have explained their findings in a paper entitled “The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in the City” published by Cornell University.

Quercia said that the goal is “automatically suggest routes” that are short as well as beautiful and pleasurable. The researchers are planning to develop a mobile app and test it in different locations across the US and Europe.

To create the algorithm, the team have reportedly gathered over 3.7 million images from different locations in London, using Google Street View and Geograph, which were later uploaded to UrbanGems.org for crowd sourcing to get opinions related to the beauty about each location.

Around 3,300 Londoners, who visited UrbanGems.org, were asked to vote for the most attractive place out of 2 places in the neighbourhoods. The more the votes for a particular location, the more it will become a part of the route in the algorithm.

The research team later mined metadata from around 5 million Flickr images, treating number of photos at a particular spot and positive comments as endorsements to evaluate beauty of the location. About 30 Londoners were asked to take a survey and choose routes that were more beautiful, who confirmed that the routes were indeed aesthetically pleasing.

Knocking out the crowd sourcing process, which was a time-consuming and expensive, the team turned to the Flickr part to take images and tags for the most beautiful route suggestions to offer a similar service in Boston.

Quercia noted that the beautiful routes on an average were only 12 percent longer compared to the shortest routes, making them a reasonable alternative for travellers. The researchers added that “For example, paths recommending touristic attractions tended to be half-a-day touristic experiences (twelve hours), and those capturing people’s salient experiences tended to be 60% longer than the shortest paths.”