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Scaling connectivity with data-over-sound

Joe Todd, Head of Engineering at Chirp, explains how data-over-sound technology can provide seamless connectivity between devices.

Building a scalable connectivity network is becoming ever more vital for businesses and consumers alike, with the relentless uptake of smart and IoT devices creating a higher demand for frictionless connectivity anywhere, at any time. In order to provide uninterrupted connectivity, support is needed for a wide range of platforms, anything from a simple mobile application to an embedded controller. As connected devices continue to proliferate, data-over-sound technology is increasing its presence as a solution for seamless connectivity between a variety of devices with audio hardware.

But how, in practical terms, can this be executed by both developers and device manufacturers today?

The power of sound

First, let’s look at sound as a medium for machine-to-machine data transfer. Compared to other technologies, data-over-sound has the advantage of versatility, and is suitable in a plethora of application areas – with the added benefit of using existing hardware. Billions of devices already have the required processor and speaker or microphone in place to effectively send and receive data via sound.

What’s more, the medium can be engineered to act completely peer-to-peer, or one-to-many without requiring additional connections to ‘the cloud’ or other network services. The demand for frictionless data exchanges between connected devices is growing constantly and companies are striving to make communication between devices both simple and seamless for the end user.

The properties of ultrasonic data transfer can effectively eliminate some of the tedious setup and provisioning processes commonly associated with traditional alternatives, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, presenting a robust solution for frictionless transmission – which ultimately enhances the end-user experience. Working alongside existing hardware to exchange data, acoustic connectivity is therefore both scalable and complimentary when working in conjunction with other popular forms of connectivity.

These affordances also make sound highly suited to the myriad of device types now present across the ever-growing IoT ecosystem. With almost every one of these devices possessing the built-in capabilities required to exchange data via sound, this technology offers a new way to simplify device-to-device connectivity between the vast range of smart-enabled applications available today, creating seamless IoT networks which can be scaled accordingly.

Scaling with sound

The scalability of data-over-sound connectivity can often be determined by the core architecture of the technology itself. With software-defined data-over-sound solution, there is no need to think about re-engineering as an application grows, presenting robust and cost-effective provisioning for device manufacturers for enabling seamless connectivity across a range of devices and form factors.

Software-only solutions are an extremely effective way of embedding the technology onto any audio-capable smart device without adding to its existing bill of materials. What’s more, delivering data-over-sound in this way also places the technology in the hands of device manufacturers and developers who wish to take advantage of a low-cost solution for building their networks with frictionless device-to-device communication.

An accessible alternative

In addition to device provisioning, this approach can substantially lower the barrier to integrating data-over-sound into devices for purposes such as proximity detection, 2-way acoustic NFC and telemetry in RF-restricted environments. This inevitably opens up a realm of possibilities for data-over-sound as the vehicle for seamless end-user experiences across a range of purposes as every day tasks become increasingly reliant on technology.

What’s more, the technology is becoming increasingly more accessible and therefore, easier to scale. The continuous development of the technology we’re seeing today is working to simplify data-over-sound technology and extend support of both developers and device manufacturers with a reliable data transfer solution as a cost effective and versatile capability to application connectivity.

That said, the true value now lies in leveraging the capabilities of data-over-sound in alongside other wireless technologies, to build a truly scalable connectivity ecosystem capable of meeting the demand for frictionless end user experiences.

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