1.28 – What 3 words?

I came across this really cool company today called what3words. It all started with this bloke called Chris. Chris often needed to quickly send equipment to big events like festivals. But he always ran into the same problem- where exactly is the stuff going? Festivals are big places with lots of entrances and no address. Logistical nightmare for a delivery man. So Chris and his mathematician buddy created a solution.

They divided the world up into little 3m × 3m squares, and gave each one a unique three-word code. For example, times.statute.kindness is a specific location in Ratoath, Ireland.

Now I immediately thought that we already have systems for this. Coordinates and grid references give us exactly the same information and are far more established in society. However, what3words goes on to explain how many problems these old systems have caused. Numbers do not come as easily to most people as words do. This means that the super long strings of numbers that make up coordinates are far more prone to mistakes and inefficiency than just three words are. Imagine trying to tell the delivery man over the phone that the entrance was at latitude 52.229400 and longitude 0.88619928… “hey was that 40 or 14? And could you repeat the second number please?”. Inefficiency to the max. So much easier would be to say table.moon.lamp and be done with it.

And you may be thinking that it is just as easy to mishear a word as it is a number. But clever old what3words have thought of this. For example, table.moon.lamp would be intentionally placed on the other side of the Earth to table.moon.damp. So it’d be pretty damn obvious that you were looking up the wrong location.

Innovative stuff. They’ve even got an app. Check them out at what3words.com. (this is not a paid endorsement btw! I just thought it was kinda interesting)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *