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Finding Your Way to the Most “Beautiful, Quiet, Happy” Route

Posted by on Jul 19, 2014 in apps, digital maps, GPS, navigation, research, travel, Wayfinding | 0 comments

Finding Your Way to the Most “Beautiful, Quiet, Happy” Route

Today’s technology is getting ever better at helping us find the most efficient way of getting from here to there, even taking road construction and traffic into account. But what about those times when you care more about the quality of the journey rather than its distance or speed? How can you find your way to the most beautiful route?

In an innovative study, researchers at Yahoo Barcelona (Spain) and the University of Torino (Italy) developed and tested a way of determining an “emotionally pleasant” journey as the major criterion for a route from here to there.

In a scientific paper entitled, “The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in the City,” researchers Danielle Quercia, Rossano Schifanella, and Luca Maria Aiello used data from a crowd-sourcing platform to enable users to vote on the relative pleasantness of two London (England) street scenes. They quantified more than 3,300 votes to determine the most pleasant routes, which they defined as “beautiful, quiet, and happy”.
They then tested the findings using Flickr metadata of more than 3.7 million photos in London and 1.3 million in Boston, computing “proxies for the crowd sourced beauty dimension. . .” and evaluated those proxies with 30 participants in London and 54 in Boston.

While there will always be differences in what people think of as pleasant routes, this study shows at least two important things: that the pleasantness of a route is largely agreed upon, at least across the people in the study; and that the qualitative “feeling” of one route over another can be quantified.

Expect to see some additional choices in the near future on your GPS devices: Fastest route? No left turns? Beautiful, quiet and happy?

See the original paper here:

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If you’re directionally challenged you need the award-winning book, Directional Sense: How to Find Your Way Around, by Janet R. Carpman and Myron A. Grant.


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