08 April, 2011

Your local personal info bubble - kinda



I originally discovered Bump Technologies via a BBC article entitled 'Business cards side-lined by digital contact revolution'. The article sited an example of two people meeting and 'bumping' their phones to share a business card with each other (ie physically bumping their phones together).

Intrigued, given that the concept was close to my own start-up of some years ago, Midentity, I researched bu.mp at little further: Bump provides the ability to share information within a local physical place, completely ignoring all the connectedness on a smartphone: 3G (or 4G even), Wi-fi etc.

Or so I thought.

In reading their FAQs, Bump appear to provide the most complex solution imaginable.
  • Step 1: The phone (fitted with an accelerometer ie senses movement) senses that it has been 'bumped'
  • Step 2: Phone sends what's being shared (a contact profile, photo, proposed business meeting etc) to bump's servers.
  • Step 3: The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones. This calculation includes the location information (you need to turn on your GPS in order for this to work) and characteristics of the bump event (whatever that means!).
  • Step 4: For exchanging contact information (and possibly other data types), confirmation is required by sender + receiver before info can be exchanged.

The FAQs state that: If you are bumping in a particularly dense area (ex, at a conference), and we cannot resolve a unique match after a single bump, we'll just ask you to bump again.

Boy, doesn't all that sound complicated? What about turning on Bluetooth and waiting for a particular file and auto-accepting it?

So is your local personal info bubble? This is a concept I remember excitedly chatting about in San Diego with Mark Bowles, the founder (perhaps co-founder??) of Staccato Communications
Sidenote: Artimi, a high-profile company based here in Cambridge doing Ultra Wide Band, merged with Staccato to become Veebeam)? 
Well yes, but given the complexity, to quote Spock, "but not as we know it, Jim".

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