If you've ever struggled to pair your phone with a Bluetooth speaker or set up a wireless printer, you know that it's often easier to connect to a server halfway around the world than to a gadget across the room. That's a problem as we increasingly use our phones to pay for stuff, unlock doors, and control everything from televisions to thermostats. No one wants to wait for coffee because the cash register can't detect their phone, or shiver in the cold because their watch is trying to connect to their neighbor's door lock instead of their own.
Multiple wireless technologies have emerged in recent years to tackle this problem, including Bluetooth, LoRa, and NFC. These technologies are all based on radio frequencies. But a growing number of businesses, from Ticketmaster to Google to nuclear-power plants, are turning to a simpler solution: sound.
Ticketmaster is working with Cincinnati-based startup Lisnr to create audio-based digital tickets. So instead of using a printed ticket or a QR code on a phone to gain entrance to an event, your phone plays a short, inaudible sound. It’s a bit like having your phone whisper a secret password to a digital assistant, like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, to gain access to an event.