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App Shares Data From Phone To Phone With Musical QR Codes

Chirp.io is an app that codes data into song and is changing the way we communicate information.

Stephen Fortune
Stephen Fortune on August 7, 2012.

The London based creative technologists behind Chirp.io want to teach the machines to sing – and in so doing change the way we share data with each other.

Chirp is a link sharing service, like a musical version of QR codes. Whatever you wish to share is uploaded to Chirp’s cloud storage. The free iPhone app converts that link to a series of 20 musical notes, which are played in rapid lilting fashion. Any Chirp enabled device within ‘earshot’ can decode that melody and access the shared information.

Which means Chirp can do everything which NFC can do, including (at some point in the near-future) micro-payments of money. But unlike NFC, Chirp can receive data from anything that can emit sound – from tanoys to the radio. This gives it a much wider (and cheaper) base of ‘data transmitting’ devices to build from. CEO Patrick Bergel explains that he and his team took lots of inspiration from how birdsong works as a channel of communication in the avian world.

Sound is more intuitive and informal. Because “chirps” carry like speech, we instinctively understand their use and their limitations much as we understand how to participate in a spoken conversation.

Chirp is a very cute idea, but they’ve potentially opened the floodgates of audio data. Perhaps it’s not bad thing that the future of ubiquitous computing will have a charming burbling ring to it.

See the video below for a closer look at how it works.

Chirp.io app

 

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