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Merging Video With Maps

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Videomap constructs a video representation of a driver's route along with a map and directions.

Credit: Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft and researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany are collaborating to create Videomap, navigation software that incorporates videos of driving routes. The program gives drivers visual cues by highlighting landmarks and emphasizing one side of the road before a turn.

Videomap uses algorithms for "turn anticipation" — essentially, the video slows before a turn and points out key images where the turn must be made. The program points out landmarks in the same way. "As we pass a landmark, the field of view will expand to encompass that landmark and create a landmark thumbnail," says Microsoft's Billy Chen. The image is held for a few seconds so that the driver can commit it to memory. Video speed varies depending on whether the driver wants to note landmarks or get an idea of the length of the trip.

To test the system, 20 volunteers read normal driving instructions for five minutes. Then they were shown a simulation of the route and were asked several times to state where the car would turn next. The second time participants used Videomap instructions. With normal directions, the drivers were correct 60 percent of the time; with Videomap, the number rose to 80 percent. Chen calls the study "pretty conclusive," and points out that drivers relied less on text instructions after using Videomap and most of them preferred the software.

Chen plans to test participants a second time using a new video simulation to see how the program holds up in different environments. He also wants to develop the program so that users will look only at the video when it covers a landmark, rather than looking equally at both the moving map and video.

University of Zurich researcher Arzu Coltekin says that Videomap could potentially be useful for bikers and pedestrians as well.

From Technology Review
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