Ultrasound, the latest device communication protocol

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Ultrasound, the latest device communication protocol

SMARTPHONE AND mobile devices have given a huge boost to mobile commerce over the past few years. Though mobile commerce essentially means delivery of electronic commerce capabilities directly at the fingertips of the consumer, its success and growth is dependent on the availability of a cheap, reliable and secure wireless data transfer medium.

By Prashant Vadgaonkar (TECHTRONIKS)

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Published: Sat 31 Aug 2013, 1:50 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:19 AM

Over the past couple of decades technology giants, card processing companies, banks and financial institutions, mobile services providers and payment gateways processing companies are struggling to zero in on technology which enables mobile devices communicate reliably and securely over short distances. Near-filed-communications (NFC) is one such standard for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by simply touching them together or bringing them into close proximity. Though this medium is supported by many corporations, it needs the smartphone enabled with the necessary hardware which brings in a natural limitation to its growth.

Silicon Valley, CA based startup Naratte, founded in 2009, claims to deliver NFC-like device-to-device communication simply with a speaker and microphone leveraging sound waves. So one can pretty much use any phone and establish a secure communication link by using ultrasonic technology, since all phones have a speaker and microphone by default.

Naratte has devised a technology christened “Zoosh” which is proprietary software and communicates in frequencies which are not audible to the human ear. These frequencies typically used by dolphins, can be picked up by phones and act as the communication medium. To be able to use the technology one has to simply download an app making your phone Zoosh-enabled!

The Zoosh technology is devised to be fast, cheap, secure and reliable and can be promptly deployed to any mobile device, including iPhones, Android phones, tablets and feature phones. Zoosh does not need network connectivity and has no interoperability issues and is built to be safe for mobile payments by implementing security techniques such as creating a unique and perishable transaction IDs.

To be able to use the technology one has to simply hold a phone with a few inches of another device which has the app or near a dedicated reader at the merchant establishments’ storefront check out terminal. Once in the proximity of each other the devices exchange tokens which are in the form of ultrasound just within a second or two. The user can then make the commercial transactions to close the deal.

The audio processing technology from Naratte has been under development for the past couple of year’s runs efficiently in noisy environments and also works on phones which do not have the ability to download and run apps.

Payment service company VeriFone’s new app Way2ride which provides payment processing system to many NY city yellow cabs recently acquired Naratte’s Zoosh technology.

Indeed, with the current methods and protocols of short range communications such as Bluetooth and NFC being unwieldy and complex, sound waves are surely the way to go since they offer the obvious flexibility and scale.


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