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Chromecast will soon add ultrasonic sound as a new way to ‘cast’

Earlier this week at the 2014 Google I/O conference, Google revealed that its little-dongle-that-could, Chromecast, will soon allow users to ‘cast’ video content to the big screen even when they aren’t connected to Wi-Fi. Now we’ve learned a bit more about the “various technologies” that Google claimed it would be employing to achieve this goal. Ultrasonic sound waves are apparently the key to making this new connection possible, creating simplified casting for those who don’t want to take the time to join the network.

Google’s director of product management (specifically for the Chromecast), Rishi Chandra, discussed some of the ins and outs of the upcoming technology yesterday at the I/O conference in San Francisco, detailed in a report by TechCrunch. Here’s how the new connectivity will work:

After running through the dongle’s initial configuration setup procedure, the Chromecast will begin emitting a uniquely generated ultrasonic sound (beyond the range of normal human hearing) through the TV’s speakers. Encoded within the soundwave are various credentials and specifications that nearby smartphones can use to pair with the device. Any smartphone loaded with apps with Chromecast support will be able to tune into the signal via the phone’s microphone.

From there, it’s just the traditional casting experience that Chromecasters have come to know and love: that Chromecast icon signifying video-streaming goodness will appear just as it does currently when casting via a Wi-Fi network, only it will source the content from the caster’s mobile connection, instead. For those worried about local security issues, there will also be an option to require entering a four-digit pin to connect, which will appear on the screen.

This kind of functionality may seem somewhat frivolous at first glance. After all, most people’s mobile devices are always Wi-Fi connected at home, and it’s usually not all that hard to connect to a network if you really want to cast content at a friend or relative’s abode.

But take a step back and you can see the grander implications of the new technology. Streaming data from one point to the other is getting faster and faster – and involving less and less physical hardware – with each passing year. There will no doubt be more applications for ultrasonic data streaming down the road, as the technology is just beginning to unfold.

[image: Robert Fruehauf/Shutterstock]

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