- An artist pulled 99 smartphones around Berlin in a red wagon, tracking how the gadgets affected Google Maps’ traffic interface.
- Wherever the phones went, Google Maps showed a traffic jam, displaying a red line and routing users around the area.
- Google Maps predicts the density of cars in an area by pinging smartphones that use the app.
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An artist “hacked” Google Maps’ traffic display — and all it took was a red wagon and 99 smartphones.
Simon Weckert toted the pile of smartphones down empty streets in Berlin. Every street he traversed suddenly appeared as a traffic-heavy red zone on Google Maps, rerouting drivers to avoid the streets, as shown in Weckert’s YouTube video documenting the results.
Weckert essentially gamed the mechanism Google Maps uses to predict traffic, he said in an email to Business Insider.
A Google representative told Business Insider that the app determines traffic by continuously pinging smartphones that use location services and by using “contributions from the Google Maps community.”
“We’ve launched the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries including India, Indonesia and Egypt, though we haven’t quite cracked traveling by wagon,” the representative said. “We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time.”