The use of sound as a data transmission medium has been studied for quite a while now. Big companies like Google and Alibaba see a potential in using sound, specifically in ultrasonic frequencies for use in various low-fidelity applications. For the most part, these companies have applied for their own individual patents, or have invested in startups which have promising technologies. One company which stands out as a potential leader in the field is CopSonic.
CopSonic has developed not only a technology, but also patented it complete with Software Development Kit (SDK) for use by other companies. It has proof of concept for use in three areas: Digital Security (E-Security), Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Detection. For E-Security, it has solutions for Identity Management and Access Control, ATM-POS-EPT Interaction, and Mobile and Online Payment. In IoT, it has solutions for Industrial IoT, and Security and Locks. For Smart Detection, it has Smart Building and Smart Vehicles.
The company was founded in 1989 in France. It was one of the first companies to develop mixing tools for mp3 and audio effects files. In 2013, CopSonic filed applications for patents on the use of acoustic waves or sound, for communicating encrypted data. That same year, they introduced the ultrasonic data transmission technology for a contactless universal mobile payment solution.
Other companies have tried to develop tools, techniques and codecs for the ultrasonic data transmission. Google has various patents the transmission of data using sound, including ultrasound, with various technologies, techniques and methods. LISNR is another company which has a like product including a communication protocol for transmitting data over ultrasonic waves.
One significant endeavor to bring ultrasound data transmission to market was Clinkle. It was able to raise $35 million from investors which included Richard Branson. The product was a mobile wallet app which would use ultrasonic waves to communicate between mobile phone users. It only needed the phones to be close to one another, with no touching, aligning, QR code scans, SMS or dongles needed. This wallet app was ahead of ApplePay, GoogleWallet and others. Unfortunately, Clinkle flamed out within a year after raising the seed round.
CopSonic’s codec is significant in many ways, primarily because it covers three distinct technologies with a single solutions base. Of greater significance is that they have a proof of concept, as well as a working SDK, which is the product itself.
The company is not selling an electronic wallet, nor a geofencing solution. It is offering the SDK for others to make these solutions.
Ultrasonic data transmission offers solutions to current restrictions and CopSonic’s codec has found a work around. Humans can hear sound which vibrates between roughly 20Hz and 20,000 Hz. Most cell phone mics and speakers have abilities limited to this range because going beyond it is useless since humans can’t hear sound outside that range. The distance for data transmission, even is relatively short due to the limitations of the speaker and mic, as well as the effects of ambient noise. This is the reason ultrasonic data transmission is limited to applications which use short snippets of data. Even then, CopSonic claims a data transmission speed of up to 15kbps and a detection speed of less than 300ms, with full duplex transmission capability.
The use cases include: using the smartphone as a payment medium or a wallet; contactless login to computers and other devices; remote control for smart home; autofill forms; epayments; ATM interface for cardless transactions; peer-to-peer payments; and geofencing and indoor GPS applications.
In terms of benefits, developers have been working on ultrasonic data transmission because there is no need for additional equipment. Most target devices already have microphones and speakers. It is also hardware agnostic, since it does not matter what machine or operating system is used to send and transmit. CopSonic’s SDK makes all these possible for hardware and software developers, without the need of specialized hardware.