Google Chromecast Gets the Ultrasound Treatment

While my initial review of the Google Chromecast was, well, quite unfavorable, in recent weeks, I have found some fairly practical uses for the streaming device, not the least of which was entertaining myself while at my parents’ house.

At Google I/O earlier in the week there were a slew of big announcements– Android L and Auto, Google’s health initiative, and of course, the launch of Android TV –but one of the coolest technological advances (well, in the minds of those of us glued to iOS, at least) unveiled at Google I/O wasn’t even actually discussed. This new development concerned Google Chromecast, ultrasound, and a seemingly “magic” way to connect smartphones to Google’s streaming device.

The connection from one’s phone to Google Chromecast has, until now, been done via WiFi. While I personally have no qualms with using WiFi to connect, a quick Google search brings up dozens of discussion threads with people looking to not have to share their private WiFi password for a friend or guest to use Chromecast.

Now, these overly-sensitive security-conscious party hosts can fret no more– a coming update to Google Chomecast will enable people within the same room of the device to connect their smartphones via ultrasound frequencies instead. While the high-frequency sounds are too high on the decibel range for humans to hear (no confirmation about dogs though), they also won’t travel through walls, making Chromecast hijacking by usurping neighbors a non-issue.

It’s quite simple– and that’s certainly the point. Google, though having their faults in the social arena, is looking to make Chromecast more straightforward and practical to use, even in situations where sharing a WiFi password may not be (offices come to mind).

This announcement came along with some other new features expected to be available on Chromecast in the coming weeks, including the ability to customize homescreen content and weather apps.