Ford Partners with Geocoding Navigation Startup what3words

Ford is partnering with what3words to give drivers access to voice recognition to reduce on-the-go distractions, the startup’s novel addressing system. The partnership is aimed to prevent a breakdown in communications.

Ford has integrated with what3words, under the deal terms drivers will be able to connect to the free what3words app on an iOS or Android device — the device then will be linked to their vehicle via SYNC 3 infotainment platform. The geocoding system is specifically designed for navigation, and instead of making conventional addresses easier for machines to understand, it coordinates into three dictionary words for each address. Hence the name what3words.

The three-word address can be easily found on website contact pages, guidebooks, and business cards. Drivers can enter the addresses via voice or text input and receive directions through the vehicle’s navigation system.

what3words was founded in 2013 with an aim of providing a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. The company has since divided the entire world into 57 trillion 3-by-3 meter squares and assigned three words to each one. The app is available in 26 languages and is used across logistics, travel, automotive, and humanitarian organizations because it provides exact locations anywhere in the world.

Moreover, the system is used by Lonely Planet, which has rolled out three-word addresses for each of its listings, as well as Mercedes-Benz, ride-hailing app Cabify, the UN, Red Cross, and TomTom.

The startup has also attracted a number of investors including Sony’s venture capital arm. Alongside, Daimler took a 10% stake in what3words, following an announcement in 2017 to integrate the geocoding system into Mercedes’ new infotainment and navigation system — called the Mercedes-Benz User Experience or MBUX. MBUX is now integrated into the latest Mercedes A-Class and B-Class cars and Sprinter commercial vehicles.

We are more mobile than ever before, but with that comes its challenges. “We are gaining traction within the automobility industry and it’s a testament to how what3words is improving journeys and customer experiences,” CEO and co-founder Chris Sheldrick said.

The system will initially be available to Ford owners in the U.K. and Ireland, Germany, Spain, the U.S., and Mexico, followed by more markets and languages later in the year. The addressing system can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android.


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