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back to article SQUEEEEE! Microsoft goes retro with pay-by-squawk NFC tech

Researchers at Microsoft Research India have proposed a new form of near-field communication (NFC) for mobile phones, one that even works on devices that lack any kind of specialized NFC hardware. The technique is a modern throwback to the earliest days of computer communications, and a big clue to how it works can be found in …

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Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

With all the articles on the Reg written about patents, this is one of the rare ones where something actually does deserve a patent (though I look for the inevitable downvotes from idiots who say "modems are prior art" because they don't understand the first thing about how patents are supposed to work or what they're for)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

It's not new, someone did a chirp app to share data.

http://chirp.io/

But the whole point of using radio is to make it less easy for the wrong people to capture your information.

Shops have barcode scanners, what is wrong with something like that?

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Boffin

Re: Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

But the whole point of using radio is to make it less easy for the wrong people to capture your information.

Errm, if it's acoustic, then it's not radio. Radio is an electromagnetic emission, acoustics are sound pressure waves. So it's not "software defined radio" as the article describes, it's a software defined modem, but no radio involved.

The idea sounds interesting… 1200 baud AFSK modems abound as mobile apps and elsewhere, there's one called APRSDroid that I use almost daily on my phone (although I have it just report via the Internet, I can plug the headset jack into a radio transceiver and use RF that way). I just hope that on top of the "jamming" they also incorporate some sort of crypto, either public-key variety or maybe use Diffie-Hellman key exchange to derive a shared secret.

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Anyone remember BBC micro?

The BBC would modulate software over the TV audio. Record it onto a tape and you had software for the BBC micro.

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WTF?

Re: Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

"Radio is an electromagnetic emission..."

Unless, oddly, it's Hospital Radio.

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Re: Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

Years ago when MS had a very open intranet I used to sometimes look at the ideas and work coming from Microsoft's research guys mostly in Cambridge. I was blown away by some of the creativity and innovation and ways of looking at problems I hadn't even imagined. Genuine innovation, very well run department.

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Re: Anyone remember BBC micro?

@Charles Manning

It saddens me in a way that today's children will never have the experience of holding a microphone to the hissy mono TV speaker and recording things like this, usually to discover it didn't work at about the three minute load point because you'd moved it and added a "pop" to the sound.

Or even doing the same during Top of The Pops. Did home taping like that really kill music?

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Windows

@DougS Re: "Got to hand it to Microsoft Research"

You really have to be careful old chap. Saying something complimentary about M$-DemonBastardLordsofDarkness is not allowed round here. The fact that MS-Research has been a source of genuine innovation for the last twenty to thirty years or so will not prevent you from getting hosed.

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Trollface

Re: @DougS "Got to hand it to Microsoft Research"

MS invented all this fantastic stuff and all I got was this lousy ribbon.

Oh wait you were right...

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Re: Anyone remember BBC micro?

Microsoft Research has come up with some rather clever stuff over the years. Unfortunately it would appear that there are too many layers of boneheads above them that never let such ideas see the light of day. I guess management is far too busy approving projects to annoy and chase away their customers to be bothered with something that might be truly innovative.

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Thumb Up

Re: Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

" 1200 baud AFSK modems abound as mobile apps and elsewhere, there's one called APRSDroid that I use almost daily on my phone (although I have it just report via the Internet, "

I did not realize such software existed, although with the DSP power of modern phone I knew it could

Thank you for giving me a genuinely new piece of knowledge.

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Holmes

Re: Got to hand it to Microsoft Research

I look for the inevitable downvotes from idiots who say "modems are prior art" because they don't understand the first thing about how patents are supposed to work or what they're for

Have a hearty downvote for:

1) Being whiney

2) Taking the psychological cop-out of calling others idiots before things even start

3) Thinking you are so superior on your gouty high horse

It's not hard to understand how patents are "supposed" to work (ha ha!) and what they are for. It's just very non-evident that they bring anything to the table except retard development of whole branches of industry for the benefit of a few - mainly lawyers and rent-seekers.

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Anonymous Coward

Phreaking

There will be a resurgence in the old vocal Phreaking techniques :)

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Do I need to get my....

...Captain Crunch whistle out of storage?

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IINM, the headset jack on most phones are standardized as well (that's why things like the Square reader work). If you use an acoustic interface in some way, perhaps it would be prudent to add a short headset cord to link the POS to the phone for a short time. This would silence the noise and provide a more secure connection between them for the transaction. If the cord's lost or otherwise suspect, you can still transmit the stuff in the open, but it would provide an alternative.

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Windows

Hmm... You're not in the selling shiny little things to hipsters business, I can tell.

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WTF?

"it works by having the *receiving* device transmit pseudorandom noise "

<parsing failure>

(Hint. Receivers receive transmitters transmit. Figure out which is which)

That said. So it's a software acoustic coupler. using audio spread-spectrum techniques and decent encryption.

BTW I recall something about burying a control track for toys in TV program sound tracks (IE 1-2 bps) decades ago.

Of course if the AES key is the same for all devices running the app it won't be that secure.

But surely no one would be that stupid?

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Re: "it works by having the *receiving* device transmit pseudorandom noise "

> parsing failure

Your real-world navigational capabilities need upgrading.

> But surely no one would be that stupid?

Yeah, key exchange exists for a reason, you know?

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Picture

Not a bad picture, made me feel young when some of my colleagues spotted it and started talking all about it :D

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