Letting young gamers connect and enjoy shared mobile gaming experiences has traditionally been a challenge to do in a safe, fast and straightforward way - especially when multiple people need to connect at the same time or into the same shared gaming session.
A few months ago we were contacted by Roblox, a gaming platform with over 180M monthly users based out of San Francisco. Together, we needed to build a totally offline, super quick method of presence detection and group building. We jumped at the chance to put our cutting edge data-over-audio technology to work in an elegant use case at 'Roblox scale'. And following on from the launch of our multichannel protocol group building and presence detection is a natural fit for our mobile SDKs.
Creating groups of users is often slow, painful and insecure requiring users to manually enter the user IDs, scroll through long address book lists or provide location and identify information:
- Address book lists are inconvenient and often require that the users are already in each other's lists
- Friending mechanics such as PIN numbers and QR codes are cumbersome and often a one-by-one process, where users are on-boarded in series, rather than in parallel.
- Proximity detection based on GPS / Wi-Fi / sensor fusion techniques often requires invasive permissions and personally identifiable location data to be sent to the cloud. It can also cast quite a large net with respect to the definition of 'nearby'.
The integration of Chirp’s technology into Roblox’s latest app version has greatly streamlined the device discovery process, by using short bursts of audio to identify nearby users and thus give the users the choice to add each other as friends.
It is a fantastic fit for nearby device discovery:
- It doesn't require any location services.
- It works regardless of the devices which need to connect. With Roblox we are launching with iOS and Android, but this scenario could connect any number of platforms and device hardware - laptops, browsers, IoT devices etc.
- Everything runs locally, so no audio is recorded, no audio is sent to the cloud for analysis. This ensures that the solution is fast and responsive for users, but also protects their privacy and makes it easy for Roblox to ensure that their entire system remains compliant to COPA/COPPA in America, and GDPR here in Europe.
- It is truly 'nearby'. Devices next door or even in the next room will not be joining your session mistakenly.
You can see the solution in action here in Roblox's latest release for iOS and Android:
Our solution allows user groups of up to 8 players to be created in a matter of seconds. It does this in a way which is supported by all hardware and platforms, regardless of the player's handset - mobile or tablet, new or old, iOS or Android.
It has been a delight to work with the incredible team at Roblox, and we are looking forward to further collaborations with them in 2019.
Read more from Roblox's team here.
Chirp is a wireless communication technology for exchanging data between nearby devices via sound, using a device's existing speaker and microphone.
It can use audible or inaudible near-ultrasonic frequencies, works in the most challenging acoustic environments, and requires no network connection.