Mobile Technology

NearBytes sounds like an NFC alternative

NearBytes uses sound to transfer data between devices
NearBytes uses sound to transfer data between devices
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NearBytes uses sound to transfer data between devices
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NearBytes uses sound to transfer data between devices
The technology enables new commercial possibilities
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The technology enables new commercial possibilities
The Portuguese graph illustrates how NearBytes works
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The Portuguese graph illustrates how NearBytes works

NFC has been hailed as the next big thing for a few years now, but adoption has been a lot slower than anticipated with people required to update their phones to NFC-capable models to take advantage of the technology. Brazilian startup Kinetics has developed a new communication technology called NearBytes that allows data transfer between older smartphones, including all existing Android and iOS smartphones, by using sound.

Pitched as an alternative to Near Field Communication (NFC), NearBytes sees the transmitting device encrypt the data and send it as a series of chirps that sound similar to a cricket. The receiving device then captures these sounds and decodes the data. As it relies only on the devices' microphone and speaker, NearBytes doesn't require any special hardware. The only requirement is that the devices be within 10 cm (3.93 inches) of each other.

With a data transfer rate of around 100 kbps, NearBytes is more suitable for swapping small amounts of data than for streaming high definition video and is around four times slower than NFC's maximum transmission rate. However, Kinetics claims the technology has been successfully tested in noisy places such as train stations.

“Any app based on NFC will take several years to become mainstream. NearBytes makes all those apps that are waiting for NFC available right now, giving them a headstart of several years in the market,” says Kinetics CFO Marcelo Ramos. He adds his technology is very inclusive because it is compatible with just about every device out there, even legacy ones.

The SDK was made available in May and a beta program with several license models is available to developers. E-wallets, loyalty and mileage apps, contact sharing, vending machine payment systems, sign-in and turnstile apps are some of the possible applications Marcelo mentions.

NearBytes was developed as part of a R&D track Marcelo opened when Kinetics was going to develop a sticker album game. They wanted to make it easier for users to swap stickers, which is "where the fun is," says Marcelo. After looking at other standards, such as Bluetooth and NFC, the team decided to develop their own and NearBytes was born. Ironically, the sticker album game did not see the light of day.

Kinetics is now raising funds to organize a roadshow to further promote the technology.

Source: NearBytes

8 comments
Racqia Dvorak
I've always wondered why they didn't do this....
Slowburn
Inferior but works with the existing infrastructure. Sounds good but I would advise against making long ranged plans based on the cash flow.
Nairda
lol. So they've effectively invented a dial up modem. Quite speedy though, I'll give them that. Definitely good enough to deliver voice. You could build in a basic comms protocol to support bi-directional as well as muti-cast capabilities. Private point to point instant messaging comes to mind.
Delmonte
Mostly anyone who actually cares about the use of NFC already has an NFC enabled device. Cool idea. Just think its a little too late to actually take off.
professore
It is clear that the public has always been interested in the possibilities of using NFC for making payments. However for this method to replace swiping a credit-card it obviously has to be in place and as usable as that credit card....we are all waiting and nothing is happening. Next please !
MGhetler
Various technologies have been used for data communication using audio channel, but it is not trivial to reconcile robustness, performance and convenience of use. Congratulations to Kinetics! This is not the only Brazilian technology that uses audio for data communication, there is another one called gluedevice that was presented during the MWC2013 in Barcelona and is based on near-ultrasound protocol. Unlike combating NFC, that born dead many years ago and is a solution in search of a problem, gluedevice was created so that we can request permission for anything (access, funds, financial transactions, e-signature, etc) via audio channel. It allows you to request funds on real stores or on remote purchases (TV, Radio, Internet), it goes where NFC will never go! Gluedevice is currently being tested in the Brazilian financial market, probably will be in production in August, 2013, more info with mauricio@gluedevice.com.
Carlos Estigarribia
If anyone is interested on LIVE examples of proximity apps already using NearBytes SDK please visit: http://nearbytes.com/en/apps.php Not only financial apps, but also promotional, business oriented and even an app supporting the World Youth Day, which is happening now in Rio de Janeiro can be found there. The great advantage of NearBytes SDK is that it reaches ALL current Android and iOS devices, ALL current Desktop OSes (Windows, Linux and MacOS), DOES NOT REQUIRE 3g/w-fi connectivity to work and it's open for ANY developer.
attoman
Aural com between devices is actually quite old. In no way does this fact take away from the specific invention and protocol developed by the NearBytes. Good luck guys! The strange thing is that everyone seems to have missed the real com channel available between all cell phones call it NearMegaBytes.