Microsoft India researchers develop software-only NFC alternative

Researchers over at Microsoft India have developed a software-only system that would make use of existing microphone and speakers in any smartphone device to send out data to a nearby device. The new system has been aptly named ‘dhwani’ (‘sound’ in English) and it can transmit data without the need of additional hardware.

The new system is more or less like NFC (Near Field Communication) wherein it is used to communicate data between two devices in proximity. NFC would require devices to have additional hardware – which only new smartphones come equipped with as of now. These new smartphones aren’t cheap and for other devices to have NFC capabilities special hardware needs to be added which would incur extra cost.

Dhwani harnesses the acoustic abilities of virtually any smartphone and is based on the same principles on which dial-up modems were based – use of sound to communicate data. The system doesn’t provide top of the line communication speeds. As of now two phones can communicate using Dhwani with a data rate of just 2.4 Kbps. Considering this, the system is definitely not ideal for exchanging videos and pictures but, considering the other uses like mobile payments, digital wallet transactions and the likes.

Microsoft research team has claimed that the new system is far more secure than the RFID based NFC communications. The team states that the system uses what is called a Jam-Secure technique – wherein the devices communicating with each other use self-jamming noise along with self-cancelation to avoid any eavesdropping. Further, the researchers have also claimed that ambient noise wouldn’t be a problem and that it may be used in virtually any environment.

Users are required to download the software and install it on both the smartphones. Then, place the two phones together such that speaker of one is next to the microphone of the other, at a maximum distance of 10cm.

You can find the research paper here.