Heard of the Internet of Sound yet? With more tiny, inexpensive speakers on Earth than people, the relatively new concept of using technology to send data over sound is gaining speed fast.

What Is a Smart Tone™?

Smart Tones are a revolutionary and proprietary data-over-audio communication protocol developed by LISNR.

Historically, audio tones have been an identifier or a trigger. For example, you produce a tone with an ID of 456. When a device hears tone 456, it goes to a cloud server to find out what that is. The tone itself doesn’t transmit data; it just finds the data on a server.  Shazam uses a similar technology in its need to record a fingerprint of audio and then check the server to identify music.

Smart Tones are better in every aspect. My team and I have spent the last three years working to make ultrasonic technology more efficient, including synchronizing data more quickly and minimizing RAM and CPU usage.

How do Smart Tones work?

Smart Tones send data over ultrasonic frequencies, turning any audio speaker into a beacon capable connecting devices and triggering 2nd screen interactivity. Smart Tones are inaudible to people, but easily detected by virtually every mobile device manufactured today with a speaker or microphone.

Any existing infrastructure – stadiums, indoor or outdoor venues, automobiles and even TVs – outfitted with speaker or microphone equipment can transmit Smart Tones.

Once a smartphone hears a Smart Tone through an existing mobile app, the tone tells the device exactly what to do, versus going to a cloud server to find the data. As just one example, we can send a Smart Tone and tell everyone’s device to pulse the built-in flashlight on and off, creating an instantaneous and synchronized light show.

Frequently compared to Bluetooth technology, the differences couldn’t be greater. Smart Tones:

  • Need no additional hardware or local implementation.
  • Don’t require Wi-Fi/cell service.
  • Minimal power consumption.
  • Device neutral.

All of these capabilities translate into incredible efficiency. Smart Tones require very little RAM/CPU power to decode the tone, meaning transmitted data can be synchronized to one-tenth of a second.

How are Smart Tones being used?

When you think about the speaker and microphone infrastructure embedded almost everywhere, Smart Tone applications are truly limitless.

Sports teams are using Smart Tones to activate meaningful second screen experiences in the stadium and at home. Imagine you’re watching a football game, and Smart Tones are embedded in each team’s official app. Immediately following a scoring drive, a notification is sent through the stadium’s speaker system as well as through the TV broadcast. Devices hear the tone and light up with a “TOUCHDOWN!” notification. Whether you’re at the game or on your couch at home, the tone also tells all devices to show the scoring replay, turning each individual device into a pocket Jumbotron.

Other uses of Smart Tones include:

  • Sending proximity-based messaging to fans based on their specific location.
  • Delivering additional content to viewers at home.
  • Sharing recaps of what was just missed.
  • Providing updates about changes in schedule times or locations.

Smart Tones are poised to become the new technology standard for real-time and hyper-focused customer engagement, peer-to-peer communication, and secure data transfer for connected devices in the evolving Internet of things.

Follow @LISNR for the latest ways Smart Tones are transforming second screen experiences in broadcast and live events.

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 Smart Tones™, 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 device connectivity 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.

Share This Blog Post