Thursday, April 10, 2008

4-10-08: Avoiding Traffic Jams, Thanks to Microsoft

Several months ago I was talking to one of my good buddies about whether or not we'd soon see a practical technology that would let people avoid traffic. It would probably need to use data gathered from GPS units (like Garmins and Tom-Toms) and some complex software algorithms.

Thanks to Microsoft's new Clearflow software, it's been done. This is just amazing to me. It's something that I've been interested in for a while. I deal with algorithms all the time, and the fact that they did this is pretty awesome. I don't know how long it will take for this to become a nation-wide application. My guess would be under two years, but with the rate of innovation nowadays, it could very well be later this year.

What the software does is it not only takes into account the shortest route via distance and speed limits, as normal online route-finding software (like Mapquest and Google Maps) does. Clearflow takes into account traffic conditions, and it's very robust. I'm not sure if it's in real-time yet, but I'm sure that capability will be realized eventually. That's what I'm looking for. Using real-time traffic data to let people get to places quicker would be really neat. It might even save a few lives, who knows.

Good on you, Microsoft.

No comments: