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Author Topic: App Feature Suggestion Back to Topics

Rookie Author

Joined:Jul 2013
Message Posted: Jun 17, 2014 5:32:59 PM

Here is a suggestion. Add the capability for us to just snap a picture of the gas prices and then have the App upload/OCR the prices from that. Even faster for us, no typing!
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Champion Author Sacramento

Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jul 2, 2014 11:55:26 AM

I think you have nicely summed up the difficulties. However I can't imagine what it would take on GBO's end to receive an image for each station vs. a set of 8 correctly-formatted 3-digit prices, especialy that of a freestanding sign that looks for all the world like cash & credit pricing, but has at the top in mice-type, "With car wash" and "Without car wash." Before an app or Cray can sort that out, I will have my own personal robot named Angelina Jolie 2024, which can accurately interpret the voice command, "A little lower and to the left."

[Edited by: CampKohler at 7/2/2014 11:59:12 AM EST]
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Champion Author Los Angeles

Joined:Mar 2010
Message Posted: Jul 2, 2014 12:57:29 AM

I thought about this some time ago, after observing one of our local parking ticket writers cruising slowly down the street with a camera on the roof of the car looking for cars with expired registration parked at the curb.

The optical character recognition isn't a major problem anymore thanks to advances made in the commercial OCR products arena, such as what the post office uses to read addresses on envelopes and what banks use to read checks deposited at an ATM. In a GB application, a photo would be transmitted from the phone to GB, and the high-horsepower processing would take place there instead of on the low-horsepower phone.

I realized that due to the almost endless variety of gas station signage that can be encountered the MSL would need several new pieces of data to tell the system which portion of any given sign corresponds with which fuel grade, and this would need to be maintained as stations change their signs around. For stations that have more than one type of sign there would need to be info in the MSL on each type of sign.

The process of collecting this new MSL info could be made relatively straightforward, but I know that in my metro area alone there are still stations that haven't had the correct cash/credit info added to the MSL after so much time since cash/credit was introduced to the MSL, so gathering so much more detailed info about a price or pylon sign layout is a monumental task that would probably never be completed by volunteer members alone.

Then there is the problem of capturing a useful photo of an unlit sign at night, possible problems with photographing one of the new electronic signs due to strobing, and the overall problem of getting a useful photo while sitting in a possibly moving car in traffic.

In short there are too many variables (humans being just one) for it to work reliably. By comparison the post office system which can read printed and handwritten addresses has an easy job since everything it reads is flat, at a predetermined distance from the lens, uniformly lit, and each field is within a predetermined area with relation to other areas.

Maybe someday when artificial intelligence reaches the low-end commercial market.
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Champion Author Sacramento

Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jul 1, 2014 2:34:10 PM

MA2RN: Once you have a price list showing, you can enter prices in two ways (iPhone shown):
1. Tap the price to reach the Report Prices page where you may tap to re-report existing prices or enter new ones.
2. Tap the Station Name to reach the Station Details page. Tap any price to reach the Report Prices page as above.
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Rookie Author Cleveland

Joined:Jun 2014
Message Posted: Jun 27, 2014 1:47:30 AM

I wish I could report gas prices from mobile app, is there a way to do that? It is hard to report prices when you can not do it from the app.
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Champion Author Sacramento

Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jun 18, 2014 5:42:11 PM

This suggestion has been added to the Suggestion Tracking List as a new topic on an existing subject.

If I can deposit photographed checks by iPhone, then theoretically this might work. However, it would probably require stopping and framing for something like a phone app to work; we aren't likely to spring for the cost of a real-time video system capable of doing it on the fly. The problem I see is that if we humans using the Mark I eyeball can't yet figure out with anywhere near perfection how to read the signs and put the right prices in the right slots, it is unlikely that software is going to be able to master the task. The hardest part is coping with the shapes and directions of the prices, which are not uniform from station to station, even of the same brand.

Meanwhile, if your photos are good enough,you might be able to use them to post prices at the end of a short trip. But in the end, this method would probably be more time consuming than manual entry, which as you get better and better, you can almost do on the fly.

[Edited by: CampKohler at 6/18/2014 5:44:03 PM EST]
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Champion Author Tampa

Joined:May 2004
Message Posted: Jun 17, 2014 10:24:40 PM

Welcome to the forum. I am assuming that although you have been a member for almost a year, that you are just now starting to use the APP. It takes a little getting used to, especially with all the changes lately, but with a little practice you will find it is pretty simple to post prices already.

As Gasbuddy said, snapping a pic on the fly would probably not create a picture that is easily interpreted by the software to know things like if it is cash or credit, and would have to use geo location to identify the location/station and if there are two stations close together and the GPS on someone's phone is off...

Well, technology just isn't there yet to implement this with accuracy (especially as a free app).

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Champion Author Maryland

Joined:Aug 2004
Message Posted: Jun 17, 2014 7:49:41 PM

Wouldn't that be an awfully complicated and intensive app? And do you really want people taking pictures of gas prices as they drive - forgetting that their picture might not be a "straight on picture" that can be clearly interpreted? And then the "app capability" will somehow determine if the price is for regular or diesel, if it's for cash or credit?

Then again, letting people take pictures of gas prices might be one way to get long time members to post gas prices more often. Or, for that matter, post prices even just once in a while.

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