It’s like Tweeting, but literal! Online service Chirp transmits an actual chirp and compatible devices will respond by downloading content from the Internet.
The “digital birdsong” is a two-second burst, which contains a unique identifier that sounds like a robotic bird noise. Devices that hear this chirp will be triggered to download content, which may be from a website URL, a photo, video, tweet, or just about anything.
The software was developed by Animal Systems, which was spun off from the University College London. The service is currently free, although Animal will charge licensing fees to businesses that wish to develop over Chirp.
Chirp currently has the limitation of sending 140-character messages, URLs and photos. While devices have been communicating via WiFi, Bluetooth, Infrared (remember that?) and NFC for some time now, Chirp’s main advantage is that the data can be broadcast to any device within hearing distance.
“We solve the problem of having to pair devices to move data. It’s fairly novel to be able to transmit information to anyone who is in earshot – a large number of devices can share the same information at the same time using sound,” says CEO Patrick Bergel in an interview with the BBC.
Bergel adds that users can get creative with how they use data exchange. “You can also use it as a device shifting mechanism. In the future you will be able chirp yourself a link to a map from your laptop.”
Chirp does not require a quiet environment to work. It can work over PA systems and in noisy locations. As the sound is quite unique, devices should not have a hard time listening to the Chirps.
Pornographic and illegal content are blacklisted, although Chirp plans to let users transmit just about anything.
Chirp hopes for the technology to be made available on all devices in the future as a pre-installed app. For now, the app is available for the iPhone. Versions for the Android and other platforms will soon follow.
July 12, 2012