Some Mercedes cars have the What3words technology built in, letting you speak or type three words to pinpoint a 10×10 foot location in its navigation system, but a lot more cars soon could get similar technology. The London company announced a deal that will let navigation system maker Here incorporate the technology.
Here navigation technology is used in car brands including Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen, built into the dashboards of about 150 million vehicles worldwide. With the deal, carmakers can use What3words technology in new cars and, if they choose, existing ones through software updates, What3words and Here said Thursday.
What3words divides the world’s surface into 57 trillion patches and assigns a three-word address label to each — including many locations that don’t have a street address. For example, the parking lot pay station at Cerrillos Hills State Park in New Mexico is located at perfecting.bleary.violins, and the famously sculpted “Wave” rock in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument wilderness is at renovating.veteran.blossom.
The technology isn’t integrated with online mapping tools like Google or Apple maps, but it illustrates how profoundly ages-old mapping technology is changing. What3words is catching on with emergency services, some Airbnb hosts, and countries like the Ivory Coast that need a modernized address system. It doesn’t get confused between 14th Street and 14th Avenue in San Francisco.
Google has an alternative technology called Plus Codes that’s built into Google Maps, and of course you can already use latitude-longitude coordinates. But What3words believes its approach is better since it’s easier to pronounce, understand, speak or type some words than a lot of numerals or a string of alphanumeric characters.
It’s not yet clear how widely What3words will be used in Here-powered navigation systems. But for those cars that get it, drivers will be able “to navigate easily in dense, urban environments with nonstandard addressing schemes or seamlessly get to any location, be it a local pub or a trailhead,” said Jørgen Behrens, Here’s chief product officer, in a statement.