Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New feature: Calculated departure times


When describing travel times in a text a user may specify either departure or arrival times.

For example "NY to London on Aug 15th" would be translated to "Depart NY to London on Aug15th", while "Hotel in London on Aug 15th" is understood as "Get a hotel in London, arriving Aug 15th".

This may seem immaterial, but in long haul flights this may actually result in date changes, especially when crossing the date line. Also users may ask specifically for arrival time, for example: "fly from London to NY on Monday, arriving no later than 10am".

Eva understands the precise meaning of the user's requests and specifies whether a given time is arrival or departure.

This however, added some complexity for our API customers, as in any travel request from A to B, they would need to check whether there is a departure time from A or arrival time to B and if the later is specified, calculate the departure time from A if needed (for example to search for flights).

We decided to simplify things and offer this service to our customers. Eva now calculates and presents departure times even when the user specified arrival times only. To distinguish the calculated times from actually specified times, there is a new flag, called "Calculated" which is set whenever a time is calculated and not directly derived from the text.

You can try out this feature by inputting "NY to London Arriving on Monday before 9am" at our tech demo at http://evature.com/demo.

You can also try that same sentence via the EVA API.

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