Finding the Scenic Route: Short Isn’t Always Sweet

When it comes to travel, sometimes the path less travelled turns out to be the best. If you prefer beautiful routes to short routes, there’s very little a GPS can do to help you. Fortunately, Yahoo researchers have come up with a way to measure the “beauty” of certain routes.

An algorithm then automatically chooses a route between two locations that maximizes the beauty along it, according to technologyreview.com. “The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” Daniele Quercia at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, Spain, and a couple of friends working on the project say.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though, so it couldn’t simply be a matter of their opinion. Instead, the team created a database of images of various areas of the center of London taken from Google Street View and Geographic. They then used UrbanGems.org to solicit the general public’s opinion of the beauty of each location.

Clearly, the process for determining the most beautiful areas in every location in every city would be incredibly time consuming, so Quercia  and her team have automated the process using photos from Flickr and the data and tags attached to them. They look for numerous photos of a particular area and comments associated with positive emotions.

The idea is fascinating, and routes have proven to be just 12 percent longer on average than their shorter counterpart. Would you spend the extra time walking in order to enjoy a more appealing scenery? Keep an eye out for an app, which is the team’s next major goal.

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