Maps that know you


I like the metaphors in this concept… and the way our emotional experience of the city is being made visual…

Hal Hodson, in a recent New Scientist, writes: “Google is using social media to transform our relationship with maps.”

“At its annual developer conference last month, Google announced that it would be using data from users’ social-media friends to alter their personal maps. A preview version of the new-style maps is rolling out around the world right now. At first it will result in nothing more than restaurant recommendations. But it will eventually lead to a highly augmented way to navigate, based on a hidden world of data representing the emotions, movements and actions of other people.”

New Scientist 8 June 2013“A family driving through new York City as part of a road trip needs a slightly different map than a lone tourist on the way to the Statue of Liberty, for example. Such context plays a central role in defining what information we need from a map, says Georg Gartner, president of the International Cartographic Association. ‘Experiences and emotions – and those of my friends – are all part of that context,’ he says.
Gartner’s research group is working on a system that embeds emotional information into maps. Called EmoMap, it uses smartphones to gather people’s emotional responses to their immediate environment, with individuals ranking places on comfort, safety, diversity, attractiveness and relaxation. The results are compiled into a ‘heat map’ and overlaid on the maps of OpenStreetMap. This method would allow people to plot the most comfortable walking path through a big city, for instance, or show the safest route home, as judged by strangers.”

“Maps built on Google’s wider range of data would allow for the popularity of different routes, areas, and destinations to be tracked over time.
[Founder of travel-mapping company Jetpac, Pete] Warden ultimately sees map personalisation as Google’s way to put its massive caches of geographical data to use, ultimately through future versions of Google Glass. ‘Google conquered ideas and culture with search, now it’s trying to organise and index the physical world,’ he says. ‘Glass and Maps are different lenses to view the world with.’

Ref: Hal Hodson (8th June 2013) Maps that know you. New Scientist 2920, p.22


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