Storing data in music

Storing data in music

INTRO: Manuel Eichelberger and Simon Tanner, two ETH doctoral students, store data in music. This means, for example, that background music can contain the access data for the local Wi-Fi network, and a mobile phone's built-in microphone can receive this data. "That would be handy in a hotel room," Tanner says, "since guests would get access to the hotel Wi-Fi without having to enter a password on their device."

To store the data, the two doctoral students and their colleague, Master's student Gabriel Voirol, make minimal changes to the music. In contrast to other scientists' attempts in recent years, the researchers state that their new approach allows higher data transfer rates with no audible effect on the music. "Our goal was to ensure that there was no impact on listening pleasure," Eichelberger says.

Tests the researchers have conducted show that in ideal conditions, their technique can transfer up to 400 bits per second without the average listener noticing the difference between the source music and the modified version (see also the audio sample). Given that under realistic conditions a degree of redundancy is necessary to guarantee transmission quality, the transfer rate will more likely be some 200 bits - or around 25 letters - per second. "In theory, it would be possible to transmit data much faster. But the higher the transfer rate, the sooner the data becomes perceptible as interfering sound, or data quality suffers," Tanner adds. (MORE)

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