Ford taps geocoding startup What3Words to help improve its navigation experience

Ford hopes to make it easier for drivers to get from point A to point B after doing a deal with What3Words.

What3Words’ ingenious geocoding app divides the entire planet into 57 trillion three-by-three-meter squares, each one with its very own three-word “address” — such as croak.stoop.wriggle — so users can easily describe super-precise locations.

The deal means that Ford drivers will now be able to connect the free What3Words app to their vehicle via Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system and input accurate three-word addresses via voice or text to get directions.

Drivers can find the three-word address on the app, or, as the service becomes more widely used, from businesses using the short location codes on their websites and contact details.

“Street addresses were just not built for voice input,” What3Words founder and CEO Chris Sheldrick said recently. “15 Ammanford Road and 50 Ammanford Road are hard for a voice system to distinguish between, and many road names aren’t unique. There are 14 different Church Roads in London and 632 Juarez Streets in Mexico City. Street addresses can also be difficult to pronounce correctly. The town of Godmanchester is actually pronounced ‘Gumster.’”

Growing interest

Since its launch in 2013, the London-based startup has been gaining increasing attention for its offbeat solution, which it describes as “a really simple way to talk about location.”

Yes, GPS coordinates already serve the same purpose, but they’re kind of ugly, hard to remember, and difficult to convey. Oh, and one wrong number can send you way off course. What3Words aims to be a simple alternative.

Mercedes-Benz has been using What3Words’ software as part of its vehicle navigation system since 2017, while others such as Airbnb, Lonely Planet, and even Domino’s Pizza have also hopped on board.

“Because it covers the whole planet, it’s great for places that don’t have official addresses, such as refugee camps in Uganda or remote places in Mongolia,” Giles Rhys Jones, What3Words’ chief marketing officer, told Digital Trends in 2018.

And if a natural disaster destroys streets and homes, What3Words could be a lifesaver, as those in need would be able to signal their location for rescuers. Even among friends, the app can be useful if you’re meeting outside a large building that has multiple entrances, or at a place without any landmarks, like in a large field at, say, a music festival.

Ford drivers in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Mexico can try the software through their SYNC 3 infotainment systems, with additional markets and languages planned for later in 2019. Simply download the What3Words app onto your Android or iOS device and connect it to your Ford vehicle. You’ll find What3Words in the mobile apps section of SYNC 3.

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