When Chris Sheldrick started a business organizing live music events, he noticed that people got physically lost all the time. It was so common, frustrating, and bad for business – you can’t afford bands or instruments being late to gigs and festivals! – that he met up with a mathematician friend to come up with a solution.
From a daily frustration came a digital solution for organizing physical presence, now on its way to becoming a global addressing standard: here’s the what3words story.
Helping Everyone Talk About Everywhere
Clearly, standard street addresses aren’t the end-all for finding physical locations. That day, Chris and his friend scribbled a new plan on a napkin – a way to identify physical locations, no street names (or streets!) required:
- Divide the world into squares, three meters by three meters.
- Randomly assign each square a combination of three dictionary words.
So, for example, if you told a friend to meet you at ///ahead.domino.freckles, they’d be able to search a map for those three words, see that exact 3m x 3m, and know exactly where to go.
They developed what3words, a simple, global, human system that helps everyone talk about everywhere. The idea took off, won multiple awards, and turned into a business and product. what3words is now available for anyone to use in a free app (download for iOS and Android), or as an API that businesses can integrate.
Mercedes-Benz and Ford have integrated the system so drivers can use it in their cars to get directions to an exact spot. Emergency services in the UK and humanitarian agencies around the world use it to quickly locate people in need of help. Domino’s in Sint Maarten is delivering pizza faster than ever to customers that give their precise three-word addresses when they order.
Give Me a Sign
To help people find them easily, thousands of hotels, restaurants, and other points of interest have added their
In its early days, what3words made stickers and erasable
The next step was a limited-edition Christmas run of
Then, what3words set up an online sign shop – powered by WooCommerce.
The shop offers indoor and outdoor signs in a range of colors and finishes. People can pick the kind of sign they want and tailor its color, size, and mounting. They can then enter their
Seeing the digital product take a physical form was an exciting milestone for the team. Displaying three-word addresses in the wild makes the system more visible, so people are more likely to use it. And if they don’t know what the three words on the plaque are, they’re probably going to ask, and then wonder what the three-word address for their home is.
what3words for WooCommerce
WooCommerce store owners can add a three-
The free what3words plugin for WordPress supports WooCommerce and allows you to:
- Add what3words’ AutoSuggest feature to the address field
- Save the three-
wordaddress against the customer’s order details, and
- Display a tooltip to help people enter their three-
You can install the what3words plugin automatically from WP Admin. From the Dashboard, navigate to Plugins / Add New and search for “what3words AutoSuggest plugin” and click on the “Install Now” button. Read more about installation.
Global addressing for the web and the world
what3words’ vision is to make three-word addresses a global standard. They’re working with customers, fans, and ambassadors to put three-
With a system simple for people to use (in 26+ languages), for machines to convert to coordinates, and for businesses to integrate, what3words is making the world a less frustrating, more efficient, and safer place.