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Data on sound and the future of frictionless data transmission

The world of data and connectivity is increasingly complex

As technology advances and the demand for efficient means of communicating data increases, the world has witnessed an increase in new emerging data transmission technologies that seek to provide businesses with secure and efficient ways to share information.

The future of connectivity will be one of an orchestrated combination of technologies working together to realize the dream of ubiquitous, frictionless connectivity, regardless of the physical or data link layers used.

One of the emerging solutions to meet these new demands is data-to-sound technology. Its ability to allow anyone to send and receive data via audio, using only a device’s existing speaker and microphone, unsurprisingly caught the attention of designers interested in adding features. additional connectivity to new and existing devices. In addition, its ability to remove the weak points of long-standing Bluetooth and Wifi alternatives, making data transmission both simple and frictionless, is invaluable.

With companies always looking to innovate and sustain their services, many are now realizing the potential of data over sound to provide seamless device-to-device connectivity to communicate data nearby, using only sound.

One of the main advantages of data over sound is that the physical infrastructure necessary to facilitate ultrasonic data transfer is already largely in place. Billions of devices of all formats already have the required processor and speaker or microphone, from mobile handsets to IoT devices and voice assistants. Sound data adds new functionality without requiring physical upgrades to existing hardware or additions to a BOM.

Sound data makes integrating IoT devices fast and painless. Traditionally, this is a notoriously tricky thing to do – if the device in question does not have a user interface, you must first take several steps to turn it into a local hotspot, in order to connect your computer to it. laptop or smartphone and set the credentials.

But by using the sound data, this difficult and time consuming process becomes simple and fast: the wifi credentials are stored on the phone, and it is just a matter of sending a sound broadcast to the new device. Interaction goes from frustrating 20 minutes to a painless 30-second pairing of devices.

Sound data can also be used in a number of ways in the financial industry, including transferring payments: it can serve as a transport layer within a transaction, to seamlessly transfer payment data from a device. to another, just like Google did with their Tez produced in India.

As a payment solution, data over sound is very accessible and is already being used by a variety of vendors, from pop-up shops in Shoreditch to street vendors in Delhi. NFC (near field communication) is not a universal feature in consumer devices like phones, Bluetooth is difficult to operate, and proprietary technologies like Apple Pay and Android Pay do not work well in countries with a wide range of different devices. The sound, however, is frictionless and is the lowest common denominator, needing nothing more complex than a speaker and microphone, which virtually every device has. This not only improves the existing audio functionality of popular devices, but also frees vendors from investing in additional or entirely new hardware, helping anyone leverage data rather than sound to lower their business costs.

Like the payments industry, data on solid technology is also revolutionizing the ticketing industry. Proven to be a reliable, frictionless and secure way to transmit and authenticate user information for ticketing for a range of uses – consider the impact on transport services , large-scale events or simply controlling access to spaces. Using the sound data, the ticket authentication process can be fully automated, providing a ticketing solution that takes into account human error and the wide range of devices that customers carry, and functioning even in areas without 3G / 4G coverage.

Another great use case for sound data is to frictionlessly create proximity-based groups. If you are in a meeting with a group of people and want to share certain data only with those in the room, Data Over Sound is an easy way to create a group and instantly share that information. Alternatively, if you’re dining with multiple people and want to easily share the bill, using data over audio is a quick and frictionless way to group up, split costs, and can even make payment easier for everyone. world.

Perhaps at the opposite extreme of the use cases for this technology is the deployment of data over sound to meet the challenges of communication in tight RF and ATEX environments. Places such as nuclear power, oil rigs, and various other relatively hazardous industrial environments do not allow the use of WiFi, Bluetooth, or other radio communication standards. Traditionally, environments like this have relied on a plethora of wires and cables or expensive and cumbersome workarounds, which require significant regular downtime for maintenance and become increasingly hazardous to health and safety. Security.

Some industrial and power plant environments, however, are adopting data rather than solid technology to solve this problem and send safety-critical information. Ultrasonic protocols can cut through the noisy environment created by turbines, generators and machines, and achieve a sending range of 60 meters, making data transfer simple and frictionless, and enabling engineers reduce the time spent getting readings, station downtime and hazards.

Of course, as is always the case, there is no single solution for data transfer that is optimal in all environments and for all challenges; in some cases, other data transfer solutions are better suited to specific requirements. But, as we have seen, in many situations audio data is the ideal solution. And ultimately, end users don’t care what data transfer medium their device uses, as long as it is simple to implement and works reliably.

Ultimately, we look forward to a future where devices interact seamlessly from an end-user perspective, regardless of the technology used.


About the Author

James Nesfield is CTO of To babble. James’ academic focus covers degrees in acoustics and sound art and doctoral research in human-machine interfaces with sound, and has since been involved in the engineering and strategy of several startups. At Chirp, he is responsible for managing the technology and development direction. He works with Chirp’s external partners to integrate and promote the use of technology in their products.


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