Everyone who lives in an urban concrete jungle knows that there are some parts of town you simply avoid walking through at all costs. Whether said area is filled with homeless people, drug users, or is a hotbed for criminal activity, every city, regardless of how nice it is, has some issues. Microsoft’s just been issued a patent for navigating you around those troubled areas should you happen to be traveling by foot. According to GeekWire the patent also covers learning from the routes you typically take and can set a kind of “safety level” so that your smartphone can give you walking directions through alleys filled with cocaine dealers if you’re into that kind of thing. The technology behind the system is pretty cool since it uses your device’s internet connection to look up historical crime data, but we can’t help but think that some people just want the shortest route possible and are willing to take a risk if it means getting to their destination just a little bit faster.
Now this patent hasn’t yet been translated into a consumer facing service that we’re aware of, but think of what other potential uses this could have? If you’re moving to a new city, what blocks should you ignore when flat hunting? If you’re a thief, which streets should you stay away from since there are likely more police officers on patrol? If you’re a teenager, where are people who can score you some booze and possibly Ritalin for your big test coming up?
All kidding aside, what we want to see is more applications out there take advantage of data that has coordinates attached to it. And please, no more gimmicky augmented reality apps either, we’re talking real innovation like what Microsoft just patented or something we can’t even think of up today, but when we see it we’ll scream with joy.