A new technology designed to help pedestrians avoid bad neighborhoods has some smartphone users up in arms. They have dubbed it the “Avoid Ghetto” app.
A new Microsoft technology that may help users avoid “unsafe neighborhoods” is generating controversy. The feature, which will reportedly be part of future Windows phones, takes into account weather and crime statistics when suggesting routes for pedestrians.
According to the patent filing, the technology will help a user avoid passing through an “unsafe neighborhoods.”
It’s not really called the “avoid ghetto” app, that’s simply what many commentators have dubbed it. And “the ‘avoid ghetto’ tag is a bit of a misnomer,” says David Murphy at PC Mag. “Microsoft seems to want its users to be able to avoid any and all headaches.”
This app, says Supermercado at WorkItLA, is “perfect for all your racist friends.” And “what if someone using a route from this system does get mugged, shot, assaulted, or robbed?” wonders Chris Matyszczyk at CNET. “Would they feel entitled to sue Microsoft because the route was supposed to be ‘ghetto-free’?”
Well, before we laugh this off too much, says Anna North at Jezebel, we should acknowledge that this app could actually help women avoid rape. If Microsoft includes “rape stats in their route recommendations, they may be arming ladies with some extra information.”
Buried within the patent is another use for this technology, one many are finding more troubling than the “avoid ghetto” feature. Advertisers could potentially use the technology to navigate users past a particular billboard or ad campaign on their route. “Yikes!” says Chenda Ngak at CBS News. “Not only might we take the long way home, we may also be forced to pass by billboards at Microsoft’s will.”