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Microsoft Patents Way to Avoid Walking into Sketchy Areas

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 on  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.

  • iLLz
    People have been doing this for years, how is this patentable?
    Reply
  • maximus81
    This would be funny. Your phone starts blinking with a huge RUN on the screen. lol
    Reply
  • willard
    In the same way that people have been giving directions for years, but GPS technologies are patented.
    Reply
  • classzero
    Planning your walk to avoid the ghetto now entails paying Micro$oft a license.
    Reply
  • lamorpa
    Can there at least be a new designation: Obvious Concept Patent?
    Reply
  • digitalzom-b
    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 :|
    Reply
  • jamie_1318
    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.
    Reply
  • freggo
    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).
    Reply
  • digitalzom-b
    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?
    Reply
  • classzero
    digitalzom-b... Yeah, I don't see this working :|
    Crime information has been available in Microsoft Map Point for at least a decade.
    Reply