Zoosh: An Alternative to Google Wallet & NFC

The guys behind the Silicon Valley startup Naratte have been creating buzz with an inaudible signal that gives application developers the benefits of Near Field Communication (NFC) using the simple speaker and microphone found in mobile devices. Pitched at a frequency commonly used by dolphins, frogs, and other animals, the signal is inaudible to humans. Naratte co-founder and CEO Brett Paulson calls the ultrasonic technology “Zoosh.”

Paulson says developers can embed the software into applications from payment processing to coupon distribution. The inaudible signal, emitted through the audio system in a smartphone or comparable device, creates a wireless connection to process a near-field transaction. No chips or silicon are required. The co-founders, who have backgrounds in wireless and audio technologies, have devised a means to encode 1s and 0s in the audio stream. The microphone on the other end receives and processes the sound waves through the software.

Not many people think about sending a wireless transaction through audio, but this software enables digital signal processing on the phone. Until recently that hasn't been possible. Three technology advances had to occur: ability for signals to transmit above the audible range, smartphones turned into media players pushing higher-quality sound, and better microphones to accommodate speech recognition.

Naratte engineers developed a security protocol to protect data transmissions simultaneously with the technology that transmits the communication. The software controls and restricts the distance the signal can travel. Each transaction has a unique and perishable ID, so encryption and other techniques ensure the data can't be replayed or relayed to another source.

Paulson says it's not intended as a replacement for the NFC technology in Google Wallet. Nor is it meant to disrupt the traction made by {complink 9538|NXP Semiconductors N.V.}, {complink 831|Broadcom Corp.}, and other NFC Forum member companies. He calls the software a “bridge” to NFC adoption. “NFC is still coming, but every smartphone user in the US will not have a phone with an NFC chip until at least 2015,” he says.

Zoosh also provides features not available through NFC technology. For example, a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) application allows consumer product companies to provide “coupons.” An MMS coupon received on a phone can be redeemed in a grocery store at the point of sale. An audio sound might say “Thank you for being a loyal customer, Laurie,” as the inaudible signal processes the discount. NFC doesn't allow for MMS messages to connect with audible and inaudible signatures.

Naratte, endorsed by companies such as Pay Pal, Texas Instruments, and Vodafone, offers retail stores a docking station, a $30 gadget, to accommodate tablets or other devices that process these wireless transactions. Many point-of-sale terminals built on {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} platforms already have an audio system and simply need a “$2 piece of plastic” that has a speaker and a microphone, Paulson says. Naratte supports devices running Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems.

21 comments on “Zoosh: An Alternative to Google Wallet & NFC

  1. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 28, 2011

    Contactless transactions may take a boost with Zoosh as NFTs are struggling to take off. However, one of the major parameter that will determine its success is security. The perishable ID encryption sounds promising, but could there be ways for hackers to  predict  the ID generation scheme.

  2. Parser
    June 28, 2011

    I am surprise that chips supporting electromagnetic NFC are not available now. Maybe Apple is designing their own chip. Ultrasound communication may temporary be used but it will affect animals and therefore will subject to restrictions. 

  3. Tim Votapka
    June 28, 2011

    Fascinating technology indeed. I'd be curious to see what the emissions regulatory standards will be. Independent test labs will surely gain from the new revenue this technology represents.

  4. mario8a
    June 28, 2011


    Definitely a Nice to have feature.



  5. Barbara Jorgensen
    June 28, 2011

    I second Tim–this is a fascinating read. Neat technology. Look forward to hearing more.

  6. Mr. Roques
    June 28, 2011

    My concern with this tecnology is interference. Animals might even cause interference (lets not even go into the what it may do to animals). It's important to have technology that can work in the ISM band or to get the FCC to designate a small chunk that's restricted to it.

  7. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 28, 2011

    Mr. Roques,

    This is a fascinating technology. The transmission range between devices won't cause that much interference with animals and it is true that potential hackers might find it difficult to break through the encryption. But I do want to wait the full deployment of hte technology before rushing into conclusion about its security aspect.

  8. Daniel
    June 29, 2011

    Good feature and I think it’s a tamper proof technology, which can address most of the security issues concerned with payment gateways.

  9. prabhakar_deosthali
    June 29, 2011

    Whatever technology and encryption you use , it may still be vulnerable to tampering. Especially when money is involved , it is a sure lure for the hackers to find a way to breach your system. A smart hacker may create an ultrasound receptor which might be able to decode your encryption scheme by automated reattempts.


  10. Taimoor Zubar
    June 29, 2011

    That's quite correct. Though the system seems really innovative, I think there will be shortcomings in it when it comes to security. Especially with financial transactions involved, the security aspect might be even critical. One of the concerns I can come up with at the moment is how difficult it would be to reproduce a signal from a fake source to make the cellphone respond back?

  11. Ms. Daisy
    June 29, 2011

    You helped answer the question of the similarity of the ultrasound decoding and the way the miltary had decoded other forms of wave encrypted messages in the past. The question is, how secure is Zoosh? I did not find much on the question at Narattes website.

  12. Wale Bakare
    June 30, 2011

    @prabhakar_deosthali to an extend you may seem right. Hardly can any new innovation be invented without a flaw. Commonest flaw or defect in information and communication technology remains very diffcult to tackle – security.

    Neverthlesss, speech recognition gadget may be at least 75% tamper proof if not 100%, mind you, no perfect system – be it anything. Human being has not attained the level of perfection.

  13. Ashu001
    June 30, 2011


    By limiting the transmission range and ensuring strong encryption (preferably upto 1024 bits);we reduce the chances of someone breaking and modifying the system for their own nefarious needs.

    Again this is'nt foolproof (if you could develop handheld readers/scanners) which can intercept and encode the Signal you could still positively break things down.My only hope in having a 1024 bit(and higher) encryption is that it will take too long.In the meantime the transaction would have been successfully completed.



  14. techendeavour123
    July 19, 2011

    Zoosch Technology when compared to NFC is a little ahead. The time required to wait for the NFC chips to respond is absent in Zoosch. All the NFC stickers and other gadgets for mobile payments can be evaded with this technology! I did not know about Apple and Google using Zoosch, thanks for letting me know.

  15. Mr. Roques
    July 29, 2011

    What I've found is that what will make it or break it is something beyond technical aspects in much cases. 

    Who backs up each technology is sometimes what drives it. Will Apple allow it? etc… 

  16. Edmunds Sinevics
    July 29, 2011

    An approach using ultrasound instead of radiofrequency gives benefits to fight with eavesdropping, but NFC have higher theoretical speed limit of transactions.

  17. itguyphil
    July 29, 2011

    Only if they get 60% of the pie…

  18. Mr. Roques
    August 30, 2011

    But that's a consequence, not the cause.  What will deliver that?

  19. Bizarre
    January 23, 2012

    It would be strange if google and Apple didn't use one of the most advanced technology, right?


    Pete and a team of mobile app developers

  20. AStefanuk
    June 29, 2018

    You can see that this particular technology has become pretty popular ( though I can agree it's an exception.

  21. rchuprina91
    June 17, 2019

    I think yes, we have to find better solution. Maybe blockchain or AI will work.  _______________________________ Roman from

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