When people first started connecting to the internet they had to rely on dial-up. In other words, you connected your computer to a phone line via a device called a modem. You’re computer would then talk and listen to your internet service provider (ISP) using a language of strange sounds which it would then translate into binary, thereby providing you with painfully slow access to the world wide web. The earliest modems were called acoustic couplers and they were absolutely gigantic. You placed your phone on this box that featured a microphone and a speaker and it would then handle all the work needed to encode and decode those indecipherable sounds into bits. Fast forward to today and we’re nearly all on broadband, but Naratte, a California startup, wants to revive acoustic coupling, not for internet access mind you, but for devices to talk to each other. Their goal is to eliminate the need for manufacturers to put expensive near field communication (NFC) technology into their handsets because it’s cheaper, and easier, to just use the microphone and speaker that all mobile phones already have. Watch the video below to get a better idea of what we’re talking about:
Update: For some strange reason they disabled video embedding. Just point your browser here.
While we applaud the 12 person team who created Zoosh, several of them with backgrounds at Apple, Google, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm, at the end of the day we don’t see anyone signing up to use their technology because the only benefit they offer compared to NFC is cost. The additional cost of including NFC will rapidly fall to next to nothing with time, just like we’ve seen with GPS. When you base your company on the promise of offering something that will be cheaper than an alternative technology for just a handful of years … you’re not really saying that you’re innovative, you’re just saying you found another way to answer a question, in Naratte’s case it’s the question of how to best connect devices to each other.