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Researchers embed data in music

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for storing data in music. The microphone in a mobile phone can receive this data. This could have interesting applications in hotels, museums and department stores.

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Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have developed a new technique for transmitting data. It involves embedding data in music and sending this from a loudspeaker to a smartphone’s microphone. A decoder algorithm that will available as a smartphone app is able to decode the data received by the microphone.

ETH explained in its press release that the scientists make use of additional notes to store the data. Only the smartphone microphone receives these notes and they remain imperceivable to the human ear. “When we hear a loud note, we don’t notice quieter notes with a slightly higher or lower frequency,” explained ETH doctoral student Manuel Eichelberger. “That means we can use the dominant, loud notes in a piece of music to hide the acoustic data transfer.”

The researchers say this new technique could be used in a hotel room, for example, to give guests access to the hotel Wi-Fi via music, without having to enter a password on their device. Other potential areas of applications include museums and department stores. Information relating to displays in a museum could be transferred directly to a visitor’s smartphone. The background music playing in a department store could be the same throughout, but depending on the department also include different information such as special offers.

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