Tens of thousands of music fans flocked to Philadelphia this Labor Day weekend for Budweiser’s patriotic “Made In America” festival, where a star studded line-up of musicians, from Beyoncé to De La Soul, took center stage. The explosion of live music spilling on to the Benjamin Franklin parkway, a mixture of iconic voices, electric beats and a roaring crowd, made for an unforgettable outdoor concert experience– but it was the sounds the audience could not hear, a flurry of tones too low for the human ear to detect, that set this year’s festival apart.
“As you approached the festival you received a welcome message. If you were near certain stages, you received reminders for certain events. If you were waiting too long in a certain area you got a free coupon for Budweiser,” says Rodney Williams, co-founder and CEO of LISNR, a mobile communications app that uses inaudible sound waves to send notifications to mobile devices. All of Budweiser’s targeted notifications during the festival, from pop-up coupons to Uber rides, were powered by his communications service .
Imagine shopping and receiving a coupon via text while standing in front of a particular product, or while at a sporting event, receiving a play-by-play of the action you missed while away from your seat. When LISNR’s “smart tones” are emitted in retail spaces, during live events and television broadcasts, the ultrasonic signals trigger mobile devices, which then deliver relevant, hyper-targeted messages based on the users location and activity. Brands like Budweiser, Live Nation, AT&T and the Dallas Cowboys are using LISNR’s revolutionary “smart tone” technology to create one-of-a-kind, interactive fan experiences.
But the real revolution exists within communications technology, an industry that LISNR is poised to disrupt, potentially dethroning Bluetooth as the superior mechanism for wireless transmission.
“Everyone is familiar with Bluetooth, and Bluetooth is light that you can’t see. LISNR is audio that you can’t hear,” Williams explains.
Both Bluetooth, and LISNR, transmit data across devices, but LISNR does so faster, synchronized within 1/10 of a second, and without the need for any additional hardware. Recognizing this potential shift in wireless, from light to sound, CNBC recently ranked LISNR number twelve on its annual Disruptor 50 list.
“We were above Spotify,” Williams notes, citing CNBC’s recognition as his start-up’s greatest milestone to date. They were also listed above Snapchat.
Adding to his list of accomplishments, Williams also received an invitation to speak at the White House for the first annual Demo Day in August of 2015. President Obama hosted the event to showcase the role of entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy. Williams also won the “Gold Lion” at the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes.
Williams’ former role in brand management at Procter & Gamble provided him with unique insights about the challenges that brands face connecting with consumers.
“The holy grail of marketing is to create a technology that can touch consumers where they are,” he says.
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