To date, radio waves are the only way of reliably transmitting data to and from devices, but it seems that the day where that duty may be taken over by sound waves is not too far off the near future. And we have Yamaha to thank for that: apparently, the Japanese company has been successful in its initial test to make use of high-frequency sound waves for short-range data transfer. Looks like it might be a good time to start investing in some decent ear protection soon.

Read on to find out more.

Believe it or not, but the mechanical vibration of waves that we all have come to recognize as ‘sound’ may actually have more uses than just serving as a means of transmitting our favorite music over the air through speakers. In fact, for all you know, the very data that is being beamed to your iPhone right now might actually be transmitted through the humble sound wave instead of the more commonly used radio waves currently used in just about every device today.

Sounds far-fetched? Not at all, especially if Yamaha has got anything to do about it. Apparently, the Japanese audio giant has been hard at work on a method of utilizing sound waves as a means of data transfer for some time already, and from what we have gathered, the initial tests have been rather successful. The new technology, which is known as Infosound Accoustic Communications, allows existing sound-producing devices like televisions sets, radio sets and televisions to transmit data by delivering a high-frequency audio signal of 18kHz and above to network-capable devices like an iPhone.

This technology was reportedly tested with a trial broadcast that was carried out a day back, where it was claimed that an iPhone which was loaded with a special app was able to pick up the audio broadcast and translate it into a usable URL for web surfing. However, it should be pointed out that you are not going to get ultra-fast data transfer speeds out of Infosound: Yamaha claims that the technology is currently only capable of transmitting data at speeds of up to 80bps. To put that number in perspective, this is way slower than surfing the Internet today with an obsolete 26.6kbps modem, which is almost 333 times faster than what Infosound is capable of.

So why would anybody want to make use of Infosound? Well, simply because just about any device which is capable of producing sound is technically capable of transmitting data through Yamaha’s new technology. For example, if you were to watch an MTV clip of the latest band in town, the TV station could simply mix in a specific sound frequency into the broadcasting signal which your smartphone could then translate into a working URL for more information about the band, if desired. In fact, this is exactly the kind of service Yamaha is hoping to offer with Infosound: the company states that it expects Infosound to be used for the transmission of secondary information such as cooking recipes and questionnaires in conjunction with typical television broadcasts.

Last but not least, Yamaha also claims that Infosound is immune to noise interference, which means that users do not have to re-position their entire home theatre setup anytime soon in the event they need to use their smartphone to retrieve some data from a television broadcast. The company also claims that Infosound is good for transmitting data at distances of up to 10 meters, which is fairly decent for short-range data transfers.

That being said, we cannot help but feel that broadcasting an Infosound signal at 18kHz is not exactly the smartest of moves for Yamaha. This is due to the fact humans are capable of hearing sounds at frequencies between 20Hz to 20kHz, which means that Infosound’s signal is well within the audible spectrum of frequencies for most people. This means that many of us, especially children, would be able to make out a distinct whine of audio data being transmitted at 18KHz, if the volume is cranked to sufficiently high levels.

And when one factors in the other fact that animals usually able to hear a much wider range of sound frequencies than humans, we must say that we really won’t be surprised if your pet dog or cat decides to walk out on you in the middle of a television or radio broadcast because of any potential discomfort caused by Infosound.

Reference: Yamaha Japan