In the not-so-distant future, you might be rocking out at a Katy Perry concert when your smart phone's screen lights up with a sneak peek of the pop star's new music video. Or perhaps you'll be watching a police drama at home when your iPad lights up with clues about the identity of the serial killer being chased by the on-screen detectives.
At least, this is the hope of Alex Bell, cofounder of Sonic Notify, a company that offers technology to broadcast data to smart phones and tablets via high-frequency sound waves. Rather than trying to gain critical mass for its own smart phone app, Sonic Notify offers its software to developers so they can build it into theirs—a move that could also result in more creative uses for the technology than the company might come up with on its own.
"Any speaker in the world can serve as a transmitter. The sky's the limit for what creative applications people can think of," says Bell, who is also the inventor of Sonic Notify's technology.
Sonic Notify isn't the first to use sound waves to communicate with consumers on their smart phones—Shopkick, a shopping rewards app, for example, also uses audio signals in conjunction with in-store beacons and its own app to determine when a user is inside a shop.