BUMP, the smartphone app for file-sharing have been rated as one of the top downloaded mobile apps of 2013. With Google’s recent procuring of the startup behind Bump, the Bump technologies, it’s again in limelight. If you have missed the news, read about it at “Google buys Bump“. Now, let us see the technology behind the working of Bump.
With the advent of NFC (Near Field Communication), there had been several file sharing apps. Most of these apps used NFC for authentication and then employ Wi-Fi Direct for transferring files at high speed. Android Beam and S-Beam are examples of such smartphone apps. Bump’s technology is something different. But, first let us understand the working of such apps.
The first step is to tap the two smartphones. When the smartphones comes in the proximity (a few inches), the authentication occurs. At this phase, they can share their IPs, MAC IDs and other details. So, NFC helps in triggering a Wi-Fi pairing between the two phones on a touch. In the next step, the two mobile phones can share data and this transfer can occur in faster rates by using Wi-Fi connectivity. (NFC is not a recommended medium to transfer data as it’s speed is less than 0.5Mbps. But, due to it’s short range characteristic, it serves as a good method for authentication. To put in simple terms, it serves like a tiny RFID tag.)
Technology behind BUMP
Unlike the contemporary apps, Bump does not rely on NFC for activating the transfer of data. When two smartphones with the Bump app are tapped each other, the app sends several sensor data to the Bump servers in the cloud. This senor data include GPS/location data, accelerometer reading, IP addresses, etc. The matching algorithm running on these servers looks at all bumps coming from all over the world and figures out exactly which two mobiles had the physical bump by making using of the afore-mentioned data. The transfer of data is carried out over the internet.
Why did Bump become so popular? It’s mainly because majority of the smartphones, including the i-phones, were not occupied with NFC. So, obviously, it gained in popularity over the former beam products. In that perspective, Bump was playing monopoly in the app world as it was the only app which substituted apps relying on NFC. However, recently, Apple have come up with AirDrop service for file sharing purposes. It employs both BlueTooth and Wifi. It is believed that, in AirDrop, the near by devices are identified using BlueTooth and on a mutual agreement, the devices start transferring data using Wi-Fi. It possibly sends encrypted packets.
Another potential alternative that can come to this arena is the audio QR code technology. Amazon’s invention “Bezos Beep” seems to be something similar. It will make use of encoded audio signals for communication. The decoded signal will contain the information that helps receiver to obtain the data from a remote server.
PS: To the best of my knowledge, the details of technology behind Bump is not available for the public. The details furnished above is based upon a search done in world wide web and the prime article used as reference is the FAQ page of bump.
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