TechRadar | How three words could change the way we navigate the globe

23/05/2017

Thanks to the likes of Google Maps and smartphones, the stress of finding somewhere is pretty much non-existent to most of us. You need never experience the cold sweat of trying to decipher a series of scribbled directions as you search for the street where your job interview’s taking place ever again.

However, how many times have you tapped in a postcode (or zip code), been guided to a location and had the words ‘you have reached your destination’  smugly uttered, only for you to look up from your phone to see no obvious entrance or, in some cases, signs of life?

And that’s the rub…postcodes were never designed to offer a precise location, but rather to identify a group of properties or addresses, and a satnav will direct you to the center of it. In the UK alone there are 1.8 million postcodes, each covering about 15 properties – but in reality one can really be expected to identify anywhere between one and hundred. Zip codes are even worse, corresponding to address ‘groups’ or ‘delivery routes’.

That said, postcodes are still seen as the best way to navigate to a location thanks to their unique arrangement of letters and numbers that reduces the risk of heading to a similarly named road miles away.

But what if you could be even more precise than that? The obvious answer is to use GPS co-ordinates, but while they can be incredibly precise, their overly long and easily forgettable set of digits make them impractical for widespread consumer use. There is an alternative however.

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