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David D. Levine
30 November 2009 @ 09:48 am
At Orycon I used the Bump iPhone app to exchange contact information and photos with people. It is an excellent app and I recommend that every iPhone user install it (it's free, and also available for Android and iPod Touch) because the more people who have it the more useful it is for everyone. It is a semi-replacement for the ability to "beam" information from one Palm PDA to another via infrared, which the iPhone lacks, and it's fun! To exchange info, you both run the Bump app on your phones and then you just bump your phones together.

The way it works behind the scenes is that when you are running the Bump app, whenever the phone's accelerometer detects a bump (a sudden change in acceleration) it timestamps the event and sends it to the Bump server. If two phones both send in bump events at the same time, the server notifies each one that the other is ready to send data. If both users confirm, the data is transmitted over the Internet via the Bump server.

brendacooper and I, being geeks, played with this and discovered that you don't actually have to bump the phones together for it to work. As long as you are able to coordinate it -- for example, down the length of a table at dinner -- if you bump your phones on the table at the same time the bump will still work. But because the Bump server uses the phones' location information to determine proximity, it might not work if you are too far apart.