Curiosio Beta10

by Vas Mylko, Roman Bilusiak

A smarter version of Curiosio called beta10 is out at beta10.curiosio.com. You could give it a try right away, and read the post afterward. It’s more rational to continue reading to at least be informed that beta10 was tested only in Chrome browser and is 4x slower than the flagship Curiosio [beta8 at the main URL curiosio.com]. Other interesting facts are going to be disclosed for the first time.

Architecture

High-level Architecture of Curiosio Beta10

Curiosio beta10 is the new data from internal beta9 connected to Ingeenee optimizer and GUI from the public beta8. Only United States and Canada are integrated into the beta10 so far. Also, there was renaming, cosmetics, tiny pieces here and there.

Atlas Obscura

In Curiosio Beta10 we connected ~14,000 world’s hidden wonders from Atlas Obscura. As of today, they have even more. From The Atlas: “Discover 20,378 curious places…” We will reconnect them all in the next versions of Curiosio.

You could click the points’ and places’ names in the text itinerary and on the route on the map. Some of them will open at Atlas Obscura website. Others will open at the English Wikipedia website.

Winged Figures of the Republic at Hoover Dam opened from Curiosio

Curiosio works like a search engine in this aspect — connecting the interesting content out there — creating the best possible experience from it — according to your requirements and desires. We have an idea to feature Atlas Obscura points in the special Obscure theme. Other planned themes are Nature, Tesla, Techno or Geeky.

Own Car & Donuts

User voice told us that instead of 7–10 day trips with flights and rental cars involved, it’s more relevant to plan 2–4 day trips around the home and drive your own car. Beta10 is the first version for short cyclic road trips in your own car. (Cyclic means starting and finishing at the same point.)

Two examples below: “Own Car” and no See & Do in Los Angeles and its vicinity on the left; and “Rental Car” with See & Do in Los Angeles on the right. Notice the donut hole around LA in the left example.

Own Car & Exclusion Zone vs. Rental Car

Curiosio proposes “Own Car” option by default. With that option, Curiosio assumes that you are traveling from your home. Some territory around the home point is excluded because you [probably] have been there many times. Trip plans are proposed within a geometrical “donut” around your home. The outer edge of the donut is the isochrone according to your drive time; the hole of the donut is the vicinity isochrone.

We will make the exclusion zone configurable via the context menu. It will be possible to plan travel-through points even across the exclusion zone.

Variety & Diversity

There are two search modes in Curiosio: lazy search for inspiration and options, and fine-tuning re-search for the option you need. While fine-tuning requires multiple context parameters from a traveler, the lazy search is almost ready. We already know that variety of options is appreciated the most in that mode.

Curiosio is trying its best to give you the first several trip plans diverse even by the route geometry. Below are search results around several well known and less known points in the United States and a few in Canada.

Search results for a 4-day road trip in own car

Density & Quality

More than a year ago we made an attempt to transcribe the real trips by the real supertraveler with a beautiful name Energy Butterfly. ruined it all. The absence of the Lake Braies in our data graph ruined that attempt. Though we use English Wikipedia names, so it was there, but it did not change anything — we did not have it either. We tried more trips then, got more issues with other missing points and places, and that was it.

Pragser Wildsee aka Lake Braies by Markus Spiske

We completely redesigned the semantic part of Curiosio, while the cutting-edge AI part (aka Ingeenee optimizer) was ready to go. In mid-August 2020 we got the data — it was dense enough and it was good quality data. The amount of the points grew 10x. For the United States, we got ~40,500 points and ~100,000 places. For Canada, we got ~10,000 points and ~20,000 places. Details, numbers, visuals are available in the corresponding blog post Where are POIs Located?

Next Steps

As soon as the density and quality were confirmed we got a new problem — search performance on that bigger data. There were concerns that the search speed would drop 50-100x. So we proactively redesigned a lot in the architecture of Curiosio, and got [only] 4x drop in speed.

This means 4x increase in user waiting time — from 15s to 60s. It’s a usability issue obviously, nobody wants to wait longer than 20s. That’s why this beta10 has not been deployed at our primary URL curiosio.com yet. We know how to make it faster. So far we were making it to just work, then to work right. Next: make it work right & fast.

In parallel with speeding it up, we will deploy Italy and France to beta10. There will be Pragser Wildsee in Italy, finally! We will re-engage with supertraveler Energy Butterfly to transcribe her real trips and experiment with them. You will be able to see them on the landing page, modify them by your own requirements and desires, getting the maximum overlap with the original journeys because they were cool.

Thank you curious traveler for reading/scanning/skimming/scrolling to the end. Now it’s good to navigate Chrome or Chromium or Firefox to https://beta10.curiosio.com and give it a try. We did not test in Safari. Tell us what is good, what is bad, what is missing. Thanks ahead!