Filtered By: Scitech

Microsoft patent may help pedestrians avoid crime-prone areas

Smartphones and mobile devices with software from Microsoft may soon help pedestrians avoid ghettoes and potentially crime-prone areas.
Microsoft has been granted a patent that allows its mapping software to get up-to-date information about a neighborhood, including crime statistics.
"The system ... can produce a direction set that is specifically tailored to pedestrian travel. A gather component 102 can obtain information related to pedestrian travel. Example information related to pedestrian travel include maps (e.g., extracted from a database), user history, weather information, crime statistics, demographic information, etc.," it said in its patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Such a feature is likely to be integrated in Microsoft's Windows Phone gadgets.
Under the patent, the system will have a search component that locates at least one information source, retains pedestrian history from and addresses of at least one information source that has a history of providing reliable information.
The gather component will obtain information related to pedestrian travel including information on security, weather and terrain.
An analysis component determines an importance of the information to a user, estimates how likely the information is to change, and chooses if the user should reach a destination through a pedestrian route and/or through a conventional route.
The system also hints that ads can be inserted into the presentation of routes.
"Various features can integrate with route presentment, such as integrating an advertisement targeted to a pedestrian with a direction set," it said.
Inventors of the patent, which was filed as early as December 2007, included Ivan Tashev, Jeffrey Couckuyt, Neil Black, John Krumm, Ruston Panabaker, and Michael Lewis Seltzer.
A separate article on tech site CNET, however, said it is not immediately clear what kind of crime statistics the system may choose to use.
"It's one thing to avoid areas where there might have occurred physical assaults and gunfire. It's another to avoid, say, places where burglaries are popular, as one suspects quite a few allegedly nice areas are subject to burglars' desires," it said.
Also, it questioned if the system integrating ads can take pedestrians to areas with specific ads.
"Is this suggesting that Windows Phones will give pedestrians a route that will take them past specific ads? What a curious and slightly mind-altering thought.
One wonders whether those who use the system might also be offered an 'avoid ads' option," it said. — TJD, GMA News