The hills are alive with the sound of… devices connecting to each other, connecting mobile phone or tablet users to each other or to a larger network of users.
That’s what Vadim Sokolovsky and Lex Sokolin have enabled as cofounders of Illiri, a company that has created software for establishing ad hoc connections using plain audio signals.
This from the Illiri website: “Our patent-pending technology uses a modulated sound packet to initiate a connection between two or more mobile devices by broadcasting a unique server-generated session ID. The receiving devices use this ID to establish a link to a session located on the server. Once paired, the end-points can exchange any data via a standard cellular network or WIFI using a normal or secure (TLS/SSL) connection.”
Sokolovsky further explained: “We wanted to give people the ability to pair devices and pass information between them. We want to enable other developers to come up with apps across security, payments, advertising, things like that, for transferring docs and videos. Payments can be ad hoc; the people can be strangers.”
The possibilities, while perhaps not endless, are certainly plentiful. Imagine establishing payment connections simply by talking on Skype, for example. Imagine a store playing a sound, and all shoppers who have the store’s app on their device and who are connected receive a discount code. Imagine watching television, and—if it’s enabled—when “American Idol” plays the tone, all connected viewers can vote by voice. Or, if the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon plays the tone, viewers can donate by voice, without having to say, “Here’s my name, here’s my credit card.” You press “pay,” and the back end does the rest.
“It’s just another way to create engagement,” said Sokolin. “We want to be the infrastructure that lets all these use cases come to fruition.”
Illiri’s server and APIs (patents pending) use sound-recognition technology and digital signal processing to establish the connection and facilitate transactions. To make sure it works everywhere, Sokolin said testing was done on cheap phones and US$50 tablets—not expensive hardware. “We wanted to work on phones in the developing world, not only top-of-the-line phones with the infrastructure we have here.”
He said the system was also tested in quiet environments and “in a really loud bar,” to ensure the signals and connections would not be interfered with.
Illiri, which was registered as a business only last October, has created a business-card exchange as a simple example of ad hoc connectivity, and demonstrated a private connection that Sokolin said lets users share only the data they want to share.
The beauty here is that you, as the device owner, can control when you want to be connected and when you don’t. People are becoming stingier with providing information about themselves, and are savvier about blocking unwanted communication. But, you do want to know about discounts and coupons when you’re shopping. Ad hoc, sound-triggered connectivity offers the best of both worlds. Developers, start your engines.
David Rubinstein is editor-in-chief of SD Times.