Technology Review: Sonic Notify

Sonic Notify describes itself as ‘a platform that enables media to be delivered to a smartphone or tablet based on presence’. The technology here involves broadcasting an inaudible signal over an audio source that can be picked up by a suitable app on a device. The Sonic Notify site has some demo videos that can explain it much better and give you a real indication of how effective this actually is.

With the app running on your Android or iOS device, you watch a ‘normal’ video that has the embedded audio signal present. The result is that information loads in the app that relates to the video you’re watching (or could be music you’re listening to). Having tested it, well – it works. It’s pretty clever when you think about it, I did wonder what frequency it was transmitting on and if it would affect dogs though…!

When you think about it, this is a hugely powerful tool and some example usage scenarios could be:

– Song / band information broadcast during live concerts
– Special offers popping up on your phone whilst shopping
– Recipe information during cooking programmes
– ‘Would you like to know more’ web links for TV shows

The list goes on of course and I think my main concern is around how intrusive this could be from a blatant spam / advertising perspective. Whilst I may be open to a pop-up telling me there’s a 2 for 1 on my favourite cheese in the supermarket, I’m not going to like random advertisements whilst walking past a billboard that happens to be pumping out silent adverts…

Wired have described the technology as ‘QR codes only an app can hear’ which I think is a pretty good description albeit the end user chooses to scan the barcode. I wonder if this technology will take off?

Given the huge amounts of money involved in advertising, I can’t see how this wouldn’t become mainstream. How long before smartphone manufacturers are taking subsidies and having suitable receiver type apps installed by default as part of the core OS.
What do you think? Is this something that will be part of our future or do you think the intrusive nature will hamper this from ever evolving beyond its current start-up phase?