Chirp unveils free tier of shouting-at-IoT devices audio net tech

One day, your gizmos can bellow nuclear power station info at each other too

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IoT audio networking tech firm Chirp has punted out a free version of its software development kit.

Chirp’s USP is audio-based networking, as opposed to the electromagnetic spectrum we’re all familiar with thanks to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Using normal speakers and microphones operating within audible and ultrasound ranges, Chirp’s tech allows comms to be established over short ranges without extra gubbins being needed.

As previously reported, one commercial use for Chirp’s tech was for connecting IoT sensors inside a nuclear power station, an environment where introducing extra sources of electromagnetic interference was strictly verboten. The company scooped £100k from earlier this year for that particular use case.

The firm showed us a demo (main picture above) in which an audio blurt from one Chirp-enabled device to another passed Wi-Fi credentials across, along with a payload message instructing the device to start pinging its home server and displaying the results. As a use case for fiddly things like Wi-Fi creds or precisely identifying which conference room an end-user device might be in, it's pretty nifty.

Readers familiar with the OSI seven-layer model will understand Chirp's tech as fitting within the physical and data link layers, though its use is entirely transport-related. Data rates seen in testing, the company told us, are around 1Kb/s at very short (similar to Bluetooth) ranges, dropping to about a tenth of that at extreme range. The tech is intended for indoor use or in other areas where sound propagation is good.

El Reg understands that Chirp doesn’t go to great lengths to bake in security on the reasonable grounds that it’s a transport protocol akin to Wi-Fi; it’s up to the user to apply suitable security measures to his connection.

The free SDK launch is intended for commercial as well as personal users. The company told us: “Developers can use Chirp as part of any commercial projects with up to 10,000 monthly active users, including any applications or products, and for any non-commercial, free or open-source projects with no user limit”.

Chirp’s exec chairman, Stephen Dunford, said in a canned quote: “Our technology is frictionless and secure, revolutionising data transfer for developers and organisations, and solving real-world problems. We help businesses create new and magical ways for technology and people to interact, and now we are doing this free of charge.”

More info is available on the Chirp website. ®


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