Currently, this content is limited to pictures, links to websites or 140-character messages, much like its precursor, Twitter. These appear in a feed similar to Facebook’s timeline.
The designers, however, have grand designs for the future of their invention and see it revolutionizing the world of social media marketing. It could, they claim, be used to send messages across the radio which prompt related downloads, could be used at events to “chirp” content over the speakers or could even be used to make payments in shops.
Chirp is unique in that it can send data to multiple devices in one go, without them needing to be paired. Furthermore, if smartphones are out of network reach when they receive the ‘chirp’, they will remember it for later and download the content once they are back online.
“We are pretty sure this is unique,” chief executive of Animal Systems, Patrick Bergel said.
“We solve the problem of having to pair devices to move data. It’s fairly novel to be able to transmit information to anyone who is in earshot – a large number of devices can share the same information at the same time using sound. You can also use it as a device shifting mechanism. In the future you will be able to chirp yourself a link to a map from your laptop.”
It is free to use, but companies will be charged a fee for add-on services.
Mr Bergel says Chirp’s distinctive sound allows it to work at low volumes in relatively noisy locations such as pubs, clubs or busy streets.
It can also work over public address systems or radio transmissions – potentially allowing broadcasters a way to send up-to-date pictures or links to background information; or an advertiser to send coupons or snippets of a song or promotional video.
Animal Systems subscribes to a “blacklist” service to prevent users transmitting known pornographic or illegal-content website links. However, it does not plan to moderate other material.
The application works by uploading a user’s material to the firm’s servers. The data is then identified with a 50-bit address space: one of trillions of available identifiers. This location is then sent to the sender’s device. When the user presses a button in the app it plays an audio-encoded version of the address.
For now Chirp is only available as an iPhone app. An Android version is promised “soon”.