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“By the time we get to the 2040s, we’ll be able to multiply human intelligence a billion-fold. That will be a profound change that’s singular in nature. Computers are going to keep getting smaller and smaller. Ultimately, they will go inside our bodies and brains and make us healthier, make us smarter.” – Ray Kurzweil, author of ‘The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology’

Navigation Since 100 B.C.

Do you recall looking up coordinates on a map? Humans have been using this very system of latitude and longitude since the 2nd century BC. It standardized how we find any point in the world with the utmost precision. But we need an index to use a street map because we’ve named our roads to make them easy to remember. Which made the index bigger than the map itself.

Three Word Addressing

The mobile app What3Words <> has reinvented map coordinates, by reducing the world’s surface to a grid of 57 trillion 3m squares. Each square has a unique name made up of three words separated by periods.

Will allowed me to text my friend that we’d be meeting at ‘ample.empty.solution‘ < > – which actually translates to the location of Madrid’s Principe Pio railway station <> . Easy to remember and fast to look up on a new form of map.

This new way of describing locations has been incorporated into new Mercedes Benz < > and Ford cars <> , by the Philippines Red Cross <> and even Mongolia < > has adopted three-word addressing for its postal system.

The Singularity

Computers will go inside our bodies and brains and make us healthier, make us smarter.

We can now navigate to any location using 3 simple words. As a widely adopted standard, then describing a place to somebody or an application becomes more precise than a street address and simpler than map coordinates.

Going back to Ray Kurzweil’s notion of singularity, imagine we have access to this via our brains. For now, we have it on our mobile phones, but this is a taste of what’s to come.

Digital Transformation Lessons

The prerequisites for this innovation are threefold:

1) The world has been digitally mapped and is available as open data

2) That we carry smart phones

3) We have fast access to cloud processing and storage

What are the pre-requisites that enable your own business transformation? The team at What3Words went right outside of a 2-millennia-old box to improve on a de-facto standard.

Does your industry have standards or establish practices that could be updated? The innovation created a platform that enables others to build their own innovations.

What platform can you create for innovation internally, by suppliers, partners or vendors?

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