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Dhwani: An NFC alternative developed by Microsoft India

Posted: 20 Aug 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Microsoft India  NFC  Dhwani  Jam-Secure  acoustic communication 

A team at Microsoft India has developed a new system that aims to replace NFC (Near-Field Communication). The team has announced the development of a secure peer-to-peer acoustic NFC alternative titled 'Dhwani', which uses sound waves to transmit data.

"Dhwani is a novel, acoustics-based NFC system that uses the microphone and speakers on mobile phones, thus eliminating the need for any specialised NFC hardware," Microsoft stated.

The team, consisting of Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, Krishna Kant Chintalapudi, Venkata Padmanabhan, and Ramarathnam Venkatesan, claimed that a key feature of Dhwani is the Jam-Secure technique, which uses self-jamming coupled with self-interference cancellation at the receiver, to provide an information-theoretically secure communication channel between the devices.

As in conventional NFC, where communication through magnetic coupling is confined to a short range, acoustic communication in Dhwani is confined to a short range (few cm). Thus, similar to conventional NFC, Dhwani enables the "association by proximity" functionality needed for applications such as P2P transfers and contact-less payments.

The use of acoustic communication means that, unlike conventional NFC, Dhwani is not amenable to implementation in passive tags, the team claimed.

"Dhwani is a purely software-based solution that can run on legacy phones, including feature phones, so long as they have a speaker and a microphone."

"Our experiments show that Dhwani can achieve data rates of up to 2.4Kbit/s, which is sufficient for most existing NFC applications," the team said in Microsoft Research blogpost.

The goal of Dhwani is to enable NFC-like functionality, i.e., configuration-free short-range communication, in a wide array of existing mobile devices, while also ensuring physical-layer security, they added.

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