Bump brings gesture-based communications to forefront
David Lieb, Andy Huibers, and Jake Mintz are the founders of Bump Technologies, a Silicon Valley start-up backed by Internet VC, Marc Andreesen. The team has created a mobile app that allows users to exchange information via hand-to-hand contact. SmartPlanet visits their offices to see how their technology works and to see some new hacks they've created including a bump-enabled beer keg and photo booth.
Music Sumi Das: We swipe. We tilt. We touch our mobile phones for just about everything, but what about bumping? David Lieb, Andy Huibers, and Jake Mintz are the founders of Bump Technologies. The team has created a mobile app that allows users to exchange information via hand-to-hand contact.
Speaker: When you want to give someone some information, you're not going to type their email address in. you're going to just hand them the information using your mobile phone, and that's the future that we want to help build. Sumi Das: But is this really new? In the '90s, Palm used an infrared signal to share information across devices. It was called "beaming," and today's consumers often use Bluetooth to transfer data wirelessly. But Huibers says their technology is different and better because it's not hardware based. Andy Huibers: It takes a very long time to build hardware devices, and a lot of incompatibilities arrive. What's different about Bump is that it's purely software based. Sumi Das: Here's how it works.
Speaker: We monitor a bunch of sensors on the phone, and when you bump your phones together, we send that sensor information up to our servers, and our servers listen to the thousands of phones around the world that area bumping at any one time, and it figures out which two phones felt the same bump by looking at that sensor data. Sumi Das: Today, users can share contacts, photos, and apps, and with more than 50 million downloads, this small startup is on a roll. But will the growth continue? The founders have other ideas to make the software more pervasive. They've been busy at their Silicon Valley office creating hacks to show what the technology can do. For example, take a look at this bump-enabled photo booth.
Speaker: It takes pictures of you and your friends, but instead of printing out pictures only one person gets to take, everyone who's bumped it gets a copy of those pictures. This will take three pictures, and everyone who bumped will get to be a part of it. Sumi Das: They've also created a beer keg activated by bumping.
Speaker: What you do is you bump, it pours you a beer, and it keeps track of how many beers people have drunken, and what that allows us to do is cool things, like, say four people pour beers in 15 minutes, so you can tell everyone, like, hey, happy hour is on. Stuff like that. Sumi Das: In the end, Lieb believes the technology could one day change the way we interact with all kinds of devices. David Lieb: If you look at the history of computing, you know, we started with punch cards to program computers, then we got the keyboard, then we got the mouse. We're trying to take it another step further, letting you actually use your phone to do gestures that make sense in the real world. Sumi Das: For Smart Planet, I'm Sumi Das.