Nokia Here buys Desti to build personalized, contextual maps

No longer a handset company, Nokia(s nok) is turning its focus to the products and technologies that remain, starting with its mapping division Here. Nokia announced on Friday that has bought Desti, a virtual travel agent app spun out of SRI International. Nokia aims to incorporate its artificial intelligence and natural language understanding technology to generate more personalized location searches and maps.

Desti mines descriptions and reviews of locations to add greater context to what would normally be plain destination searches. For instance, it can distinguish between a romantic hotel (heart-shaped jacuzzi!) and a business hotel, or between a dive bar (charmingly disheveled!) and a gastropub. But Desti also taps your social graph, taking into account your preferences and tastes from your Facebook likes and own history of using the service.

Desti, travel guide

Source: Desti

The idea is Desti can not only provide more refined results when you ask it a question about a travel destination, but it can also tailor those results based on information you never asked. If you’ve only ever stayed at the Ritz, the nearby Motel 6 isn’t going show up in search results.

According to Nokia’s Here Three Sixty blog, Nokia wants to embed that kind of personalization and contextual understanding directly into its mapping products. That means not only will the Here navigation app be available on smartphones, but also on the mapping and navigation data and services it sells to developers and automakers.

“We want to create a new class of location services that implicitly inderstands who ou are and what you’re looking for,” Here VP of Search and Places Don Zereski said in the blog post.

Nokia didn’t reveal a purchase price for the two year old company, which shares its SRI roots with other AI and natural language understanding companies Nuance Communications(s nuan) and Tempo AI as well as Apple’s Siri. According to TechCrunch, though, Desti isn’t long for this world as a stand alone app. It will be shut down in 90 days and it’s already been withdrawn from iTunes.