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Something to Chirp about?

Audio is the up-and-coming way to share data. Well that’s what Patrick Bergel and Animal Systems had in mind when creating their new app, Chirp. It is designed for quick and easy sharing between people in the same place, and unlike Bluetooth, there is no need to connect devices before sharing.


Users of the app can send images, website links, or messages up to 140 characters in the form of digital audio which is designed to sound like birdsong. The app uses a series of 20 notes in a 1.8 second sequence which allows the microphones in devices to retrieve stored data or carry out a command.

chirp

Chirp is the first app to use strictly pitched, audible sound to share data

says Patrick Bergel, co-founder and CEO of London-based Animal Systems, which developed the app. They are a spin-off from the computer science department at University College London, and came up with the idea when studying the way animals communicate, particularly birds and their song.

The world is a noisy place, so will this sound-based app be able to cope with the background blare and clatter of life? Apparently the answer is yes; it has been designed to cope with a relatively large volume of noise and users could transfer images in noisy public places if they wish. They can transfer as an anonymous user, or register via Twitter or Facebook, this then allows them to share anything they receive to those platforms. The birdsong can be broadcast to any amount of users as long as they are within ‘earshot’ of the sound, so it could definitely be of use to radio stations, TV and speakers at conferences for example. The 1.8 second sequence could be used for broadcasting a web link to a new musician’s track, a link for a TV programme’s website, or an online document.

There are a few downfalls to the app, such as the fact the user must be connected to wireless or 3G for it to work, as what is actually being transmitted to the device is a link to download the data, rather than the data itself. This places it in close competition with various sharing services that are done via the internet. You must have the app open to receive a Chirp, which some may see as a disadvantage as they will never receive unexpected messages. The advantage of this however, is that you would never receive an unwanted Chirp. It is currently limited to iPhones, although an Android version is said to be in development.

It is certainly an innovative and interesting form of technology which is still finding its feet under the pressure of popular social networking sites, apps, and wireless technology. It has great potential for the future and its creators have high hopes for what can be done. They say on their website

“We believe that almost everything that can be connected will be connected, in the so-called ‘internet of things.’”

Their goal is to enable anything that makes a sound to carry data, such as doorbells, saxophones, ATMs, carhorns, etc. This is a broad statement, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on how Chirp progresses in today’s increasingly digital age.

A.R

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