High-pitched audio signals generate apps on smartphones

Have you ever heard of "proximity" marketing? Probably not — that's because the trigger for this new marketing technology is inaudible to the human ear. The technology involves a beacon sending out a high-pitched audio signal that triggers an app on your smartphone to push you a video, ad, text message… or anything that could possibly pop up on your phone.

The beacon could be installed anywhere, from a PA system in your grocery store to videos or even on a nametag. When a person comes within range, the beacon emits the signal that activates your phone.

You can imagine marketers salivating over this idea. For example, how about pushing an ad for a Snickers Bar if a person happens to walk past the vending machine at work? Or, sends a coupon for diapers when someone walks into a grocer store?

The system can even push maps. Say a person is in the range of a beacon installed in the neighborhood a restaurant — they can be the daily specials with a map on how to get there.

The technology harnesses an incredible amount of suggestive power. But as the saying goes, "With great power comes great responsibility." Marketers are warned that because a person's smartphone is such an extension of who they are and how they behave, if you intrude on that space it better be with a damn good offer.

The system, called Sonic Notify, has been used in such high profile environments as Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour and at New York Fashion Week.

The exact nature of the offers in those cases wasn't disclosed but they represent cases where there are passionate brand loyalists in a limited time/location based situation so the experimentation there are likely to provide valuable best practices for the legions of advertisers that will follow.


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