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Chirp – Share data using a digital birdsong

chirp.ioChirp is a clever app that allows data, like images, links etc., to be shared between phones using digital sounds. One might think why would anyone download an app for sharing data when almost all phones are equipped with bluetooth, wifi and now even nfc. But in order to share data using these methods users experience some hassles – Bluetooth requires pairing, wifi involves time consuming uploading and downloading and some phones don’t even have NFC.  Chirp is a solution to all these issues.

Developed by Animal Systems, a spin-off business from University College London, this app lets people share links to webpages, pictures and other content with multiple people at once, provided they also have the Chirp app installed and open. Besides installing the app, the only requirement Chirp has is the phone to be equipped with a minimum 1 Ghz dual-core processor. The data is transmitted in the form of a 2 second long sound and is received by the microphones of the receiver’s phone. Since all the phones are equipped with a basic speaker and a mic, data could be shared between any type of phones.

The mechanism behind this involves for the system to code the data into a 2 second long digital chirp, which consists of a couple of dozen notes played rapidly in a certain order. The receiver audio engine tries to decode the sequence of notes into a sequence of letters which the server understands, and then returns a link to the user so they can go wherever the short code points.

All this happens in a couple of seconds. If recipients are offline their devices will remember the “chirp” and download associated content later.

Patrick Bergel, CEO Animal Systems, says Chirp’s distinctive sound allows it to work at low volumes in relatively noisy locations such as pubs, clubs or busy streets. As per the Chirp team, “If you can hear it, the app can hear it.” All the data shared on Chirp is stored in the app’s history, making it easily accessible in the future. One can even share it directly online. The app works with the tap of a single, large yellow button. “Chirps” can be used for public broadcasting and advertising too, by transmissions over radio and television.

Chirp is now available for both Android and iOS devices free of cost.

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