I need landmarks when I get driving directions. I get lost without them.
The last time I took a long trip by car, I used a couple of different online mapping programs to get me to where I was going. Or at least most of the way there. The directions worked fine the first 320 miles, until I had less than a couple of miles to go.
Then I drove around for 40 minutes, in the middle of Massachusetts, trying to find a hotel that I had made reservations at.
I wish that there was something better.
Yep, I didn’t ask directions. I should have. A couple of good landmarks would have helped.
Google may have something, in the not too distant future, that can help someone like me.
A new patent application from the folks at Google builds upon the previous patent applications that they have filed involving Google Maps. This one uses such things as Satellite imagery, and “waypoints” to help drivers navigate to their destinations.
Digital mapping techniques are disclosed that provide visually-oriented information to the user, such as driving directions that include visual data points along the way of the driving route, thereby improving the user experience.
The user may preview the route associated with the driving directions, where the preview is based on, for example, at least one of satellite images, storefront images, and heuristics and/or business listings.
Inventors: Andrew R. Golding and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen
United States Patent Application 20050288859
Published December 29, 2005
Filed: July 13, 2005
The application describes how it might choose landmarks, or “waypoints” as it calls them. It also discusses incorporating user feedback and advertising into the program.
Here’s a snapshot they provide of some of the aspects of how it may work:
As previously explained, computer-generated driving directions are typically expressed in abstractions that are convenient for computers, such as “Stay on Main St. for 1.2 miles”, etc.
In contrast, human-generated directions tend to be more visually-oriented, such as “Stay on Main St, you’ll pass a big Sears on your left, then turn right at the Dunkin Donuts”. Through the use of satellite-based imagery and/or storefront images, a mapping system configured in accordance with an embodiment of the presenting invention can give more visually-oriented (and hence human-friendly) directions.
For instance, satellite-based imagery (such as that provided by Google Earth or Digital Globe) can be used to identify salient buildings, structures, and/or areas for use as way points (e.g., a particularly large building, an isolated building, a baseball or other large stadium, a park in an otherwise urban area).
In addition, using image interrogation techniques, structures such as traffic lights and stop signs can be identified, which are also useful in giving directions.
The document discusses:
- Identification and scoring of waypoints,
- Incorporating those waypoints into driving directions,
- Using human and GPS-based feedback to improve upon the directions,
- Advertising on this system, and;
- Providing an auto-preview to show a traveler more about how to get to his or her destination.
I could have used that last feature on my long drive up the East Coast. A set of directions, with pictures on them would have been helpful. Here’s something like what I needed for the last few miles:
“After exiting the Mass Pike, and turning right on Rt. 9, cross over the short bridge just past the Dunkin’ Donuts, and travel past two traffic lights. Look for the large hotel to the right, just after a McDonalds. Just past it will be your Econo-lodge.”
Now, just because there is a patent application on file doesn’t mean that it will come to pass. But I really hope that this one does.