Google Patent Granted on Customizing Travel Directions

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Google’s LatLong blog recently reported a way of customizing driving directions in a post titled It’s a click & drag situation.

The approach is a little easier than the method of customizing directions described in a newly granted patent for Google on tweaking directions from a start point to an end point, but the update and modification of a route with a mouse pointer seems like an intuitive and obvious update to the patent.

Google has a short video on how to customize your driving route.

More about the patent here:

Method and apparatus for customizing travel directions
Invented by Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen and Lars Eilstrup Rasmussen
US Patent 7,239,959
Granted July 3, 2007
Filed December 8, 2004

Abstract

Various methods, systems, and apparatuses for customizing travel actions in travel directions are disclosed.

One method and apparatus includes providing a first set of travel directions to a user, the travel directions including at least one travel action, receiving at least one selected travel action and a replacement travel action from the user associated with the first set of travel directions, and outputting a second set of travel directions associated with the at least one selected travel action and the replacement travel action.

Another method and apparatus includes obtaining travel directions based on a start point and an end point, comparing travel actions from the travel directions with a customization file, the customization file including at least one selected travel action and a replacement travel action, determining that at least one travel action in the travel directions is the same as the at least one selected travel action, and integrating the replacement travel action into the travel directions.

The drop and drag approach is a few steps ahead of the more text intensive approach shown in the images that come with the patent in terms of ease of use, but the basic concepts, such as being able to route around heavy traffic, or choose alternative routes to travel from start point to end point, are pretty similar.

I’m wondering if Google might use this driving directions customization to find the “preferred” routes that people like to use to get from one place to another. It would be interesting to see the search engine learn from user data in the area of driving directions.

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5 thoughts on “Google Patent Granted on Customizing Travel Directions”

  1. That is certainly what it looks like, Gerard.

    The usual standards to be followed for utility patents are that they describe something useful, nonobvious, and new.

    The ability to take driving directions and maps, and customize them is definitely useful. Maybe it’s even new. I’m not quite convinced that it is nonobvious – it’s something that I’ve been hoping someone would get around to doing for a few years.

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