The Stack Archive

‘Inaudible’ sound-wave advertising to smartphones gets funding boost

Thu 5 Jan 2017

A Malaysian tech startup is using inaudible sound-waves from devices and the environment as a transmission medium to mobile devices, and has just received £445,000 (approx. $557,000) in funding.

VAV (apparently pronounced ‘Wave’) employs frequencies which cannot be detected by the human ear, but can be incorporated into digital and analogue sound output as very near-field data transmission bursts to smartphones and other mobile equipment.

The VAV transmission method operates over any sound output, including PA speakers, YouTube videos, public speakers and television, but does require the installation of an app which interprets sound input and converts it into actionable messaging and smartphone alerts. Since it seems unlikely that consumers would make any active effort to open a new advertising channel in their own private messaging systems, adoption of the software is presumably intended to be driven as an optional ancillary install in bundles – though the company does not currently give any detail about this most challenging aspect of the project.

VAV functionality can be rolled into the individual apps of companies which have licensed the service, which effectively means that when the third-party app is running, the microphone is being constantly monitored for potential in-audio VAV content.

VAV monetises the service via licensing fees and profit-sharing from lead generation or conversion through use of the technology.

The company, which intends to extend its services further throughout Malaysia and into the Chinese market, has received $557,000 of funding from the Axiata Digital Innovation Fund, managed by Intres Capital Partners.

Executive chairman of VAV Kamarul Zaman Wan Yaacob commented on the funding round, “This timely injection of funds will allow VAV to fast-track and gear up the marketing of the VAV solutions to more media companies to help them enhance their advertising campaigns,” and continued, “Through VAV applications, businesses will be able to optimize their campaigns as well as to be able to track campaign results and measure their impacts on a real-time basis.”

Major companies which decide to use such technology may face controversy over privacy issues. In 2016 speculation about the Facebook app’s propensity for audio-gathering garnered criticism, whilst the Federal Trade Commission released a letter in the same period warning consumers that software from Indian tech-marketing firm SilverPush was employing ‘audio beacon’ technology to surreptitiously gain access to users’ microphones.


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