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Zoosh tech seen as alternative to NFC

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:phone-to-phone? phone-to-POS? transmitting information?

Naratte Inc. has discovered a method of transmitting information via ultrasound with the aid of speakers and microphones that come with mobile devices such as smartphones. According to the startup, it is collaborating with other companies on the technology to enable applications such as mobile payments and loyalty systems.

The newcomer's technology called Zoosh is positioned as an alternative to NFC, particularly good for enabling via a mobile app existing systems that do not support NFC.

A company called SparkBase is already using the technology for a mobile wallet application called PayCloud. Other applications in the works include phone-to-phone and phone-to-POS payments, phone-to-POS loyalty systems, digital coupons and fast Bluetooth pairing.

The approach uses audio frequencies inaudible to humans, created using proprietary transforms and algorithms created by Naratte (pronounced to rhyme with karate). The audio is played as a standard MP3 file over a limited distance using a unique and perishable transaction ID.

The startup faces a host of challenges. It must convince third parties to adopt its technology at a time when many of the big banks, credit card companies and mobile giants are jumping on NFC.

Potential partners will scrutinize closely any security scheme used for payments. To succeed, Naratte will have to build its own ecosystem and likely create at least a de facto standard around its technology.

To its credit, Naratte gathered general statements of support from a handful of influential people.

"Zoosh has the potential to enable complete consumer merchant shopping experiences," said Laura Chambers, general manager of PayPal Mobile, noting the low cost of deploying the technology.

"This is one of the most creative uses of [wireless] technology that I've seen," said Matt Muse, general manager of C5000 DSPs at Texas Instruments.

"Being able to easily enable transactions among all types of mobile devices within the true proximity from each other, all done through a pure software-based solution, is incredibly powerful," said Fay Arjomandi, head of US R&D for Vodafone Group.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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