what3words has today announced a new partnership with Alpine Marketing Co., Ltd. (Ota-ku, Tokyo; President: Muneki Ishida), the domestic marketing division of Alps Alpine Co., Ltd. (Ota-ku, Tokyo; President: Toshihiro Kuriyama), which develops, manufactures and sells electronic components and car electronics-related products. Available from today, the company's car navigation system Big X series application "BIG X CONNECT" supports what3words, enabling customers in Japan to easily navigate to any precise location using just three words.

Research 1 from what3words found that while more than 2/3rds of those surveyed actively use navigation systems to help them reach their destinations, 79% said that they do not always trust these systems to get them to the right place. There are a number of factors which led to individuals having been directed to the wrong destination. This is not necessarily due to the navigation system themselves, but instead because of inaccuracies with street addressing, Notably:

  • 25% said they had been directed to the centre of a building rather than the right entrance
  • 19% said the place they were going did not have an address (e.g. park, pop-up, beach)
  • 15% said the street name given pointed to the wrong place (e.g. led to a general area rather than the specific place)
  • 15% said the place they were going to did not have a recognised street address (e.g. new build)

what3words solves these issues by providing a simple way to communicate any precise location. It has divided the world into a grid of 3 metre squares and given each square a unique combination of three random words: a what3words address. This means that every building entrance, picnic bench, pop-up venue and meeting spot in a park or beach has its own unique address, allowing users to easily communicate and navigate to anywhere in the world. For example, a driver can park at ///sender.evolve.uneaten to catch a great view of Mount Fuji. Those with the Big X Connect application can now input what3words addresses to easily navigate to precise locations using just three words.

what3words is particularly useful in overcoming the challenges that stem from Japan’s complex addressing system, where it is not uncommon for streets to be unnamed, and buildings to be unnumbered. what3words also allows users to communicate very precise locations in large, confusing or busy places, such as buildings with multiple entrances, train stations, and concert venues.

Adoption of what3words is increasing rapidly across Japan. Restaurants and hotels are listing their what3words addresses to help guests to find them, and in February 2023 NAVITIME Japan announced the technology had been integrated into its flagship navigation app, NAVITIME. Last year Subaru Corporation became the first automaker globally to bring what3words voice entry in Japanese with their All-New Crosstrek.

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder & CEO of what3words commented “It’s been brilliant to see how what3words’ innovative approach to addressing has been welcomed in Japan. We see huge potential for our technology here and are excited to continue our expansion in the region.”

what3words has been backed by high profile businesses across Japan, including the Sony Innovation Fund. Launched in 2016, the Sony Innovation Fund is dedicated to engaging with promising, innovative startups in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies. It has invested in a range of companies in the US, Japan and Europe so far to leverage Sony’s technological know-how to build a better society and future. what3words’ partners and investors in Japan also include Hiatchi, Subaru, Alpine, Increment P, Mapple, S-ride and Crosshelmet.

1 Survey results based on research conducted by OnePoll to 1,000 adults in Japan aged 18+ in 2021