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Updated Bump App Turns a Phone Into a Storage Device
By Barry Levine
Posted: February 14, 2013 2:42pm PST

A user opens the Bump app on the phone, selects the files to transfer, bumps the spacebar key on the computer, and the files are transferred to the computer. The bump sends various sensor data to the Bump servers, including phone location, accelerometer readings and IP address. The files are transferred between devices via Wi-Fi or a cell network.

Would you like to more easily share files between your smartphone and your computer? Bump Technologies has updated its popular app so that users can now share files by bumping the Bump-enabled phone against a computer.

Bump originally focused on exchanging phone numbers, contact info or photos via a bump between two Bump-enabled phones. But that required the other owner to also have the Bump app. In January, Bump updated its app to enable sending photos from the smartphone to a computer, but only in that direction.

Now, by using the service to exchange files with a computer, those obstacles are removed. The update allows the transfer to go in either direction, and can include any file or files, as long as the total size in a transfer is under 30 MB. No setup is required, except for installing the new Bump app. The company said it is looking into the possibility of offering a larger size for transfer, possibility as a premium upgrade.

'Ubiquitous USB Drive'

Co-founder and CEO David Lieb told news media that, with the added capability, "we've kind of turned Bump into an unlimited and ubiquitous USB drive." The app is available for Android devices and the iPhone.

After downloading the free app at http://bu.mp, the user opens Bump on the phone, selects the files on the phone, bumps the spacebar key on the computer, and the files are transferred to the computer. The bump sends various sensor data to the Bump servers, including phone location, accelerometer readings and IP address. The files are transferred between devices via Wi-Fi or a cell network and through the cloud.

One possible use case of interest to any smartphone owner is quickly backing up videos and photos on a phone to a computer. The files are available on Bump's servers, and users get a Web address they can employ if they want to share those files. Bump said that it has integrated its service with Dropbox, and is looking for other online storage partners.

Frustration with Contact Exchanges

The company said that about 5 percent to 10 percent of its users are presently bumping with a PC, and that usage has increased by 50 percent in the last couple of months. The earlier contact/photos exchanging app has been downloaded over 125 million times, according to Bump.

The company was launched in 2009 by Lieb and co-founders Andy Huibers and Jake Mintz. Lieb has said the idea grew out of frustration he had with typing people's contact info into the phone.

On the company's blog, Lieb wrote Thursday that, in the year 2013, "we have self-driving cars, private space exploration, 3D printers -- but most folks have a hard time getting a video taken on their phone over to their laptop."

Bumping to transfer data or conduct a transaction is beginning to take hold. Smartphones enabled with near-field communication chips can bump with a suitable payment terminal in a bricks-and-mortar retailer, in order to make a purchase. NFC-based bumping involves hardware and software, while Bump's technology uses only software.

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