How Data-over-Sound is the Future of Internet Of Things – Himaghna Dey Sarkar

In Columns, Internet of Things

Today, the world is more connected than ever before. Internet of Things and its allied technologies have transformed the world into a global village where almost all devices, and in turn the people who own these devices, are connected to each other. Such is the pervasion of the internet in our lives that certain systems are not just powered by but are dependent on connectivity in order to work efficiently, or at all.

One such system is that of digital data transfers. From music to money, all the digital transfers we are carrying out are primarily based on internet connectivity and smartphones. However, when viewed in the entire scheme of things, the current digital data situation is somewhat skewed and restrictive.

How data over sound is revolutionizing Internet of Things

The foremost benefit of data-over-sound is that it can be integrated into existing hardware without the need for investing in expensive or bulky infrastructure. The friction less, ubiquitous technology can be embedded into any phone with a simple software integration. The phone can then be used to send and receive data through sound signals through the device’s speaker and microphone. Therefore, the technology is incredibly flexible and can be used by individuals who have the most basic feature phones that only support the call and text functions.

A useful aspect of data-over-sound, is that the technology can connect two devices that belong to completely different generations. For instance, legacy devices will be able to transfer data to cutting-edge smart-devices in the most friction less manner possible. The technology goes beyond traditional networking capabilities, a fact that alone has the power to revolutionize the IoT universe.

The interoperability of sound as a mode of data transfer is almost advantageous. The same technology can be used through basic phones, smartphones, laptops, PCs, tablets, EDCs and mPOS systems. Therefore, its applications can be more widespread and versatile than all its predecessors combined. With such flexibility, it can be adopted by everyone from large retail stores to humble mom-and-pop stores. It is affordable, easy to adopt and extremely simple to use.

Sound is secure: How data-over-sound addresses IoT’s security concerns

Data-over-sound technology also addresses the security concerns that are currently faced by IoT devices. Connected devices are rampantly being attacked by cyber crimes such as malware, phishing, hacking among others. In fact, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of India revealed that a total of 9,622, 11,592 and 12,317 cyber crime cases were registered in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. These cases are rapidly increasing as cyber criminals become well-versed with the weak links and loopholes within existing cybersecurity systems.

This is where data-over-sound steps in with 3 layers of security in place. Leading soundwave based data transfer startups such as ToneTag are securing their technologies with Blockchain. A public record of each transaction carried out under the technology is made accessible and transparent through Blockchain, and the chances of data breach are decreased dramatically. Any previous transaction can be verified easily, and fraud can be identified within seconds. Therefore, soundwave technology is creating a more secure environment for IoT users.

The future of data-over-sound

Sending money through sound involves a simple process that can be commenced even with a basic phone with a speaker or microphone. The speaker emits encrypted sounds that carry data. This data is then transferred between devices, literally, at the speed of sound. When payment through soundwave becomes a common practice, shopping will become as easy as picking up an item and walking out of the store while the sound wave based app automatically pays the bills as you walk past the receiver.

Data-over-sound can revolutionize multiple sectors of the economy that are dependent on data transfer. From wireless printing to communication in highly secure areas such as nuclear power-stations where radio frequencies are prohibited, data-over-sound can act as a true game changer. Further, marketers can use sound with embedded data into their advertisements in order to track engagement and quantify marketing results.

Several innovative startups are toying with potential use cases of data-over-sound. With its solutions already providing exciting and futuristic experiences across sectors such as payments, retail and mobility, the future of data-over-sound is diverse and exhilarating.  It is exciting to think of a world where devices communicate with each other, making back and forth exchanges only through sound, quite like we humans do.

(The author is the Chief Expansion Officer at ToneTag – a global technology solutions provider. It offers sound-based contactless payments, location based services, and proximity based customer engagement services, amongst others.)

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