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Devices/smartphones

Zoosh Leapfrogs NFC

1:00 PM -- A Silicon Valley startup isn't waiting on Near-Field Communications (NFC) to jump into mobile payments. Instead it is relying on ultrasonic technology in a phone's speaker and microphone for secure transactions.

A lot of companies are pitching NFC alternatives, but what caught my eye about this one -- named Naratte -- is that its software uses frequencies that are inaudible to humans but are used by frogs, dolphins and other animals to transfer data.

I'm not sure exactly what that means (I'm picturing phones letting out silent frog-mating calls), but it sounds pretty cool. You can check out the following video for a more scientific explanation.



It's calling the technology Zoosh, and says it can turn millions of smartphones or feature phones on the market into NFC-like devices. The company is looking to license its tech to wireless operators and says the process is entirely encrypted and secure.

NFC has been somewhat slow to get to market, but technologies like Zoosh, along with NFC stickers, RFID technologies, add-on accessories and online mobile payments, should help consumers get comfortable with using their mobile phone for transactions. By the time NFC chips are widely available in phones -- and that day is soon approaching -- mobile will be a more natural, trusted channel for payments. (See NFC to Push $50B Over-the-Air by 2014, Google Taps Sprint for Tap-to-Pay and Here Come the NFC Phones.)

Of course, at that time Naratte will have to work on positioning its frog-to-frog service as complementary to NFC, not competitive. But, right now, anything that brings awareness to mobile payments is good for the entire market.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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