CNBC Disruptor 50

LISNR aims to disrupt Bluetooth: Founder

LISNR: Calls inaudible with Smart Tone technology
LISNR: Calls inaudible with Smart Tone technology

LISNR co-founder and CEO Rodney Williams has a simple explanation for what his start-up does: "we connect."

It's how the the 3-year-old company manages to connect its users—including businesses—that earned LISNR $4.4 million in funding and a spot on CNBC's Disruptor 50 list.

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"We connect any device with a speaker or microphone," he said. "We've essentially made it very easy for any speaker to be used to connect devices, whether that's for experiences, or whether that's for device-to-device" communication, he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

The Cincinnati-based company uses proprietary technology to transmit messages and data through ultrasonic sound, rather than Wi-Fi or 4G wireless networks. Essentially, it turns users' smart devices into an alternative to Bluetooth, the popular short-range wireless tech.

Williams said the technology enables greater efficiency and accuracy than Bluetooth over a wider range without taking a huge toll on battery life. An Apple Watch that relies on LISNR's ultrasonic waves would get five to seven times the battery life than one using Bluetooth, according to Williams.

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LISNR aims to help brands connect with their target audience, whether that's a cable station pushing additional smartphone content to a viewer watching one of its shows or a sports team that wants to send information to fans at its stadium.