Google Tone broadcasts URLs to any device within earshot

The Chrome extension broadcasts addresses through sound that's inaudible to humans

Google Tone broadcasts URLs to any device within earshot

Google Tone broadcasts URLs to any device within earshot

A new Chrome extension can instantly share URLs among nearby devices, using sound to broadcast the information to microphones.

Google Tone is an experimental feature that could be used to easily share browser pages, search results, videos and other pages among devices in an office, classroom or family setting, according to Google Research.

While it can't pass through walls or travel beyond earshot, the system is designed to make sharing browser URLs as easy as talking to people nearby.

"The initial prototype used an efficient audio transmission scheme that sounded terrible, so we played it beyond the range of human hearing," researcher Alex Kauffmann and software engineer Boris Smus wrote in a post on the Google Research blog.

While microphones on laptops and video conferencing devices are optimized for the human voice, the extension incorporates a codec based on dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (DTMF), a system that has long been used in conventional telephony.

Tone works at low volumes and can be used over Hangouts, but it can be affected by speaker volume and microphone sensitivity.

When the extension is installed, an icon of a megaphone appears at the top right in Chrome. With the device's volume on, sharing a URL is done by clicking the icon.

Users have to be logged into their Google account, and their profile names and photos are displayed alongside the URL in incoming Tone notifications.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetGooglesearch engines

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?