what3words smashes conventional mapping with digital-first address systemNews / Technology | OnlineBy Nick Vivion | July 3, 2014Share This article was originally published on Maps continue to evolve for the digital age - and yet the world continues to live by anachronistic addresses created for the postal system.What3words is smashing this thinking and replacing addresses with a three word system that slices the world into a grid of 57 trillion 3x3 meter squares. Each square is then given a random string of three words, such as "gazed.across.like," which uniquely describes that specific spot.In order to prevent confusion, there are no overlapping words in nearby areas, with similar sounding squares distributed around the world to avoid any inherent confusion.The core principle is that the Internet demands a new way of dealing with addresses, not only a way that makes it easier to share addresses in magazines, text messages, phone calls and websites, but also in a way that transcends language barriers. So no matter what language is spoken, the three words are in that language.This means that any address can be translated for a foreign language speaker - such as when an English visitor is in Russia and needs to find an address without the ability to translate.The beauty here is that this method doesn't require English as the global language; rather, it empowers individual languages to maintain relevance while still simplifying destination discovery globally.Besides the ingenuity of slicing up the world to create a wholly new marketplace, the business model is to offer customized location designations dubbed "OneWords." These are words that start with an asterisk, and that can be purchased to designate a specific square on the w3w map. This can then be shared with others to place into the search engine at http://w3w.co.Addresses, regardless of customization, can be shared using the short link via w3w, so addresses can now be shared with more ease across platforms.To find the name of a specific square, the website has a search engine that pulls from Google Places. One potential drawback to the 3x3 formula is that a specific location can have multiple designations.For example, depending on where the pin lies, Booty's Street Food could be lunging.clocks.clan, material.neater.grit, canyons.orbit.acted, disputes.policy,deluded, or ten other w3w addresses (the favorite being "grinning.insect.rips"). This defies the point of having a single building designated by one address, and is a result of laying a grid flat over the world. Nonetheless, a customer would still end up at the right building regardless of the chosen three words.The inclusion of certain words - such as "downer," "deluded" or "disputes" seems like an oversight, as no one wants to share an address that includes negativity or odd designations.Of course, these limitations could also work in the service's favor, by pushing more peopled to purchase a customized name while also allowing businesses and residents to choose which set of words are best for each personally.The company is focused on becoming the de facto digital address system, and has released an API to encourage development and integration into other apps and services.The better integrated the feature is, the easier it will be to build the competitive advantage necessary to not only survive any new entrants into this emerging digital address space but also to deliver pricing power with 3rd party integrators and customers once the moat has been built and filled.Learn more here.