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Microsoft Patents Way to Avoid Walking into Sketchy Areas

By - Source: GeekWire | B 44 comments

Microsoft has obtained a patent for producing walking directions based on several varying factors depending on the time of day, weather and even crime rates.

Microsoft has just been awarded a patent (via GeekWire) for "pedestrian route production" that accounts for various factors, such as time of day, weather or, most importantly, crime rates, and can automatically adjust the recommended route to account for these variables.

"As a pedestrian travels, various difficulties can be encountered, such as traveling through an unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures," reads the patent abstract. "A route can be developed for a person taking into account factors that specifically affect a pedestrian. Moreover, the route can alter as a situation of a user changes; for instance, if a user wants to add a stop along a route."

Microsoft goes on to say that, while there are solid route production solutions in place for vehicles and these offer the ability to specify certain travel constraints (such as 'avoid highways'), the differences between pedestrian routes and automobile routes are quite different. For example, a pedestrian can commonly traverse terrain that is more rugged then many vehicles. However, a pedestrian is also susceptible to environmental elements, such as extreme cold.

"A large amount of focus in route generation has focused upon vehicle route generation and little attention has been paid to pedestrian route production," Microsoft says. "However, there has been a long felt need for route generation towards individuals that do not commonly travel by vehicle."

Microsoft's solution would include "a gather component [that] obtains information related to intended pedestrian travel and a generation component [that] produces a route based upon at least part of the obtained information." The company goes on to say that the pedestrian route is produced based onĀ  security information, weather information, terrain information, or a combination of the above, and later says the technology could even mean a pedestrian arriving faster than a vehicle because of a more direct route.

"Due to detailed route planning, a direction set can be created that allows a user to take more diverse paths that can compensate for a general lack of speed," the company said.

Read more about the patent here.

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  • 27 Hide
    maximus81 , January 4, 2012 7:41 PM
    This would be funny. Your phone starts blinking with a huge RUN on the screen. lol
  • 20 Hide
    classzero , January 4, 2012 7:43 PM
    Planning your walk to avoid the ghetto now entails paying Micro$oft a license.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    iLLz , January 4, 2012 7:38 PM
    People have been doing this for years, how is this patentable?
  • 27 Hide
    maximus81 , January 4, 2012 7:41 PM
    This would be funny. Your phone starts blinking with a huge RUN on the screen. lol
  • 0 Hide
    willard , January 4, 2012 7:43 PM
    In the same way that people have been giving directions for years, but GPS technologies are patented.
  • 20 Hide
    classzero , January 4, 2012 7:43 PM
    Planning your walk to avoid the ghetto now entails paying Micro$oft a license.
  • 5 Hide
    lamorpa , January 4, 2012 7:50 PM
    Can there at least be a new designation: Obvious Concept Patent?
  • 2 Hide
    digitalzom-b , January 4, 2012 7:53 PM
    Wow, sounds like an advanced gather component... it can tell which neighborhoods are owned by the bloods and crips, and to stay of 3rd street after 9pm, the hookers there can be violent -- according to police reports.

    Yeah, I don't see this working :|
  • 4 Hide
    jamie_1318 , January 4, 2012 7:54 PM
    This is hardly patent trolling at all. Compared to patenting a gesture, patenting software that automatically creates pedestrian routes by combining local data sources almost looks commendable. Especially considering that automobile route planning using software is already patented.

    Although a patent shouldn't be the method of competition with an obvious idea like this. What they should really do is make better software and databases than everyone else in order to beat out the competition.
  • 2 Hide
    freggo , January 4, 2012 7:57 PM
    Sounds to be it is an 'just in case we will ever use it' patent.
    I live in southern Florida; love to ride my bicycle for errands. I practically never encounter 'walkers' except those going from the super market to the car. American's just don't walk (NYC does not count).
  • -2 Hide
    digitalzom-b , January 4, 2012 7:58 PM
    jamie_1318This is hardly patent trolling at all. Compared to patenting a gesture, patenting software that automatically creates pedestrian routes by combining local data sources almost looks commendable. Especially considering that automobile route planning using software is already patented.Although a patent shouldn't be the method of competition with an obvious idea like this. What they should really do is make better software and databases than everyone else in order to beat out the competition.


    Why? So some company who don't even try to make or research the software makes a patent for it to sue companies when it's finally made?
  • 3 Hide
    classzero , January 4, 2012 8:00 PM
    digitalzom-b... Yeah, I don't see this working :|


    Crime information has been available in Microsoft Map Point for at least a decade.
  • 9 Hide
    willwayne , January 4, 2012 8:06 PM
    This would be especially useful for tourists.

    How long until the criminals start using this to find "untapped" resources?
  • 0 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , January 4, 2012 8:09 PM
    I think they did this to see how much of a rediculous patent they could get away with, just to poke fun at the patent system. They figured, if apple can patent random crap, we can too.
  • -2 Hide
    Delengowski , January 4, 2012 8:14 PM
    I guess people getting that reliant on technology that they can't tell when they're walking into the bad part of town. Common sense was just patented
  • 1 Hide
    wiyosaya , January 4, 2012 8:15 PM
    lamorpaCan there at least be a new designation: Obvious Concept Patent?

    There already is an exclusion on getting a patent on an "obvious" invention. The definition of "obvious," though, seems to be something patent examiners (at least in the US) do not understand. I expect that patents that are disallowed under the "obvious" rule have to be fought in court after the patent is granted. :sarcastic: 
  • 7 Hide
    iamtheking123 , January 4, 2012 8:21 PM
    "Avoid Black Neighborhoods"

    Yeah I tick that box on my GPS.
  • 0 Hide
    John1969 , January 4, 2012 8:25 PM
    people still walk?
  • 1 Hide
    lathe26 , January 4, 2012 8:31 PM
    What are the odds that Microsoft will have a snappy answer to walking into Mordor? Sadly, unlike Google, not much.
  • 8 Hide
    Gulli , January 4, 2012 8:40 PM
    jamie_1318This is hardly patent trolling at all. Compared to patenting a gesture, patenting software that automatically creates pedestrian routes by combining local data sources almost looks commendable. Especially considering that automobile route planning using software is already patented.Although a patent shouldn't be the method of competition with an obvious idea like this. What they should really do is make better software and databases than everyone else in order to beat out the competition.


    I disagree. A specific algorithm is worthy of a patent, not the general concept the algorithm is supposed to be used for.

    If I develop a new type of car engine I can patent that specific type of car engine, but I shouldn't be able to patent the concept of a car engine.

    This kind of patent trolling is outlawed in most countries, as it should be, unfortunately the United States is not one of those countries.
  • -2 Hide
    11796pcs , January 4, 2012 8:45 PM
    John1969people still walk?

    iamtheking123"Avoid Black Neighborhoods"Yeah I tick that box on my GPS.

    +1 to both of you. I am actually suprised someone didn't think of this earlier though. You would think Google would have thought of something like this for their Android phone users in New York City. Good idea Microsoft, now just don't mess up the implementation.
  • 1 Hide
    rasagul , January 4, 2012 8:46 PM
    I'm against this, how else are we going to thin the heard?
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