Microsoft Patents 'Avoid Ghetto' GPS Feature for Unsafe Neighborhoods, Bad Weather

 @redletterdave on January 06 2012 4:07 PM

Microsoft has won a patent for a GPS feature that helps the user avoid dangerous neighborhoods, weather systems, and dangerous terrain. Many are already calling this the avoid ghetto feature.

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, said Microsoft's official filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 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.

The GPS feature, created specifically for mobile phones that leverage GPS technology, considers weather data, terrain and local crime statistics before offering the user a specific route. The feature is helpful for drivers, but it's clearly designed with pedestrians in mind, as those walking are more susceptible to outdoor dangers.

According to the patent filing, Microsoft's GPS feature will retain pedestrian history from a plurality of pedestrians and addresses of at least one information source that has a history of providing reliable information, and discounts low-quality sources. Once the device has obtained the information, an artificial intelligence component makes at least one inference regarding a route based on previous pedestrian behavior.

In addition, Microsoft included an analysis component that determines an importance of the information to the user, so if a user doesn't mind going through an unsafe neighborhood if that route is faster or more direct, the GPS feature can take that into account. Similarly, if the user does not want to drive through inclement weather, the GPS can find a route that avoids the weather system to maximize safety.

Microsoft's GPS feature is also intelligent enough to tell when an information source is compromised. The system is said to resolve conflicts between an information source with a financial interest and an information source without a financial interest to provide directions based on the source without a financial interest. How the AI knows which sources have financial interests is uncertain.

Lastly, Microsoft's feature works in real time, so if crime or weather changes, the system can adapt dynamically to give the user the safest and most personalized directions at all times.

Microsoft will likely implement these newly patented settings into its Windows Phones developed by HTC, Samsung, LG and now Nokia's new Lumia 800.

What do you think of Microsoft's new GPS features? Let us know in the comments section below.

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