The Boolean Life
Things are either True or False. Or not.
Putting free calls to good use
By Olibe.nu

I always knew 'nite' calls could be productive. Those 12:30am to 4:30am calls predominantly used by youths in school.

I remember how outside the hostel at night, people would be scattered around like it was daytime: talking, mainly boys calling girls.

Truth is, I never participated. I didn't have anyone worth talking to for more than 5 minutes then without repeating myself. But I had racked my brain for a way to turn those free voice calls to free data: something I needed at that time more than cupid tales.

Recently, every network provider in the country ran a free call promo and that was when it hit me! I had just read about them in TechCrunch and realised how perfect (or to soon be) they are.

chirp.io logo

Chirp.io is what I'm talking about. I'll just lift what they say about themselves from their FAQ page.

What is Chirp? Chirp is a way to share links using sound.

How does it work? You can think of a chirp as a tiny piece of music. Each chirp lasts about two seconds. The system listens out for a couple of dozen notes played rapidly in a certain order, within a certain range, at a certain speed. The audio engine tries to decode the sequence of notes into a sequence of letters which our server understands. The server then returns a link to the user so they can go wherever the short code points: to a webpage, say. This decode all happens in realtime on your phone.

So, Chirp is just a way to share links using sound. A bit.ly that gives an audio output instead of the short url.

How does that tie into free calls? The sound output from chirp can be sent through the phone to the other person(s) on the line! After all:

Sound is a pretty flexible medium because we transfer little bits of data as sound, more than one person can receive a chirp at once. So you can send a chirp over a PA system, over the radio, or a YouTube movie. It's up to you.

Think about it. Just open your mind to what this means. I could use chirp to stream a video over a network provider's free calls! Or better yet, build another protocol over it. SMTP, BitTorrent, or even plain old HTTP! With the output from the speakers at the other end decoded to get whatever you're sending.

The more technical details about chirp can be seen here but the API is not yet out. When it does come out, an army of modders will redefine the word data in the statement:

Chirp is a platform to send data over sound.

The current definition of data as links will expand, creating a lot of useful tools out of chirp. They only have an iOS app for now but when things start rolling, I'm going to be doing more chirping!