What3words.com, established in 2013 and now used in more than 170 countries, divides the world into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares and has assigned each of these squares three random words. These words can be easily remembered by the user. The New Zealand Geographic office in downtown Auckland, for example, is at melt.noise.winner. The summit of Mt Cook is playlists.youthful.wafts. The words are encoded and decoded by the what3words service, parsing spoken language into a precise location, and back again.
Existing coordinates, using longitude and latitude, leave room for human error, and postcodes fail to cover the location of about four billion of the world’s population.
The problem of similar-sounding words has been solved by removing them from the list (sale vs sail, for example) and easily confused words—such as singular and plural forms—have been assigned to far-apart locations so that it’s obvious if a mistake has been made.
While it’s not yet integrated with Google Maps, it is already integrated with many location-based technologies—including navigation, surveying, mapping, travel guides and tools for emergency response.