In the Internet of Things (IoT), Bluetooth technology enables smart devices – cell phones, wearable devices, and just about anything else you can think of – to communicate with each other. Bluetooth is great for transferring small amounts of data in short distances. However, the technology has significant limitations that leave opportunity for other protocols to jump in.

And that’s where sound comes in.

While the concept of using ultrasonic sound frequencies to deliver hyper-targeted and proximity-based messages, data and video is relatively new, innovative brands and content creators are already embracing this technology.

But the infrastructure to hear and receive sound is vast. No special technology is needed to enable sound transmission. Added to the ability to use cutting-edge sound technology to deliver real-time engagement and meaningful content, sound is set to become the new technology standard for connecting devices and people.

No Constraints

I helped start LISNR to find new ways to use sound-based technology, and I’m excited about the possibilities. Here’s why. Unlike Bluetooth technology, data-over-audio communication  such as LISNR’s proprietary SmartTones™:

  • Need no additional hardware or local implementation.
  • Don’t require Wi-Fi/cell service.
  • Can be transmitted across distances greater than three feet.
  • Use minimal power consumption.
  • Are device-neutral.

All of these capabilities translate into incredible efficiency. Data-over-audio communications require very little RAM/CPU power, meaning transmitted data can be synchronized to one-tenth of a second versus several seconds in other connected technologies.

Built-In Infrastructure

Another reason sending data-over-audio is gaining speed fast is because of the existing sound infrastructure. Speakers are embedded everywhere. In fact, there are more speakers on Earth than people. If each and every one of these speakers are utilized to carry data, there is an extremely large transmission network available. Bluetooth technology, on the other hand, requires hardware to be built into each device—increasing cost and connection complexity.

More Hardware on the Market

First came Siri, then Google Now and Amazon Echo. As more devices come to market capable of being always on, always listening, data-over-audio communications will continue to accelerate. Sound will quickly become the new norm for receiving information – whether it’s a recipe, educational content or even marketing messages.

Case in point,  Google just released its own wireless router called OnHub – because, well – most wifi sucks.  We’re sharing and streaming in ways our current routers were never meant to handle.  Google set out to simplify this problem.  And they used sound as the medium for the router to connect with your device.  When you set up OnHub using an Android device, the router uses an audio tone to send a setup code directly to your mobile device for simple and secure setup.  Nifty, right?

Precision Targeting

Two Bluetooth limitations preventing effective communication and data transfer are distance and physical space.  You’ve probably had this problem before.  Your phone is connected to your home stereo, but when you walk in the bathroom, you drop the connection.  When you get too far away, or a physical structure obstructs your signal – Bluetooth is inefficient and unreliable.

Sound goes where other technologies can’t, through walls and even across entire stadiums — anywhere existing speaker or microphone infrastructure exists. This technology enables delivery of proximity-based communications to large groups in very specific locations, like fans who pass by a certain stage at a music festival.

The Sky’s the Limit

Frankly, we’re just starting to scratch the surface of how data-over-audio communication technology can be used. Sports teams and artists are using this technology to connect with fans and deliver amazing second screen experiences. Brands are connecting with customers in-store and online at the same time. Even broadcast TV becomes more engaging for couch-side viewers.

There are countless applications using data-over-audio technology still to be developed that will transform how each and every person connects to each other. And I sure like the sound of that.

LISNR is a high frequency, inaudible technology; a new communication protocol that sends data over audio. As the leaders of the Internet of Sound, we use inaudible sound waves called SmartTones™, to transmit information.  LISNR essentially transmits customizable packets of data every second that enable proximity data transmission, second-screen functionality, authentication and low-fi device to deviceconnectivity on any LISNR enabled device.  We enable this functionality better and more efficiently than bluetooth (proximity), ACR (2nd Screen), and NFC/RFID (authentication). As an integrated software partner, LISNR can power devices to connect with world around better than ever before.

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