Google Chrome add-on lets computers swap links using sound

The technology giant releases an extension for its Chrome browser that allows machines to swap information using audio - an idea inspired by the simplicity of talking to other people.

Google is hoping that computers will soon start sharing information with neighbouring machines by having a "chat".

The US technology giant has released an extension for its Chrome browser that allows the computer to broadcast information by playing a sound that can be picked up by the microphone of a machine nearby.

The Tone extension adds a button to the browser that broadcasts the URL of the current tab to any other machines in earshot that have the extension installed.

"Tone grew out of the idea that while digital communication methods like email and chat have made it infinitely easier, cheaper, and faster to share things with people across the globe, they've actually made it more complicated to share things with the people standing right next to you," said a blog post by a Google interaction researcher and software engineer.

"Tone aims to make sharing digital things with nearby people as easy as talking to them."

The data is sent at a frequency that can't be heard by humans, however Tone initialises the connection with another computer using audible Dual Tone Multi-frequency Signalling.

The information can also be broadcast to computers at a distance by playing the sound over the phone or a Google Hangout.

Google has been using the extension internally to exchange design files and links.

The system can transmit data in most environments but not every nearby machine will always receive every broadcast.