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Bump Technologies: Exchange Contact Information & Other Data


In this post, Internet Lawyer and Mobile App (Software) Patent Attorney, Advocate Rahul Dev discusses about bump patent application. 

Founded by David Lieb, Andy Huibers, and Jake Mintz, Bump lets you exchange contact info and other data with other people by tapping your phones together. It partners with other app developers to build that feature into their products. It is tied to PayPal and is built in to PayPal’s latest app.

A quick review of Bump’s FAQ page reveals that there are two parts to Bump: the app running on the device and a smart matching algorithm running on their servers in the cloud. The app on the phone uses the phone’s sensors to literally “feel” the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then they simply route the information between the two phones in each pair.

A recently published patent application (US20110191823) assigned to Bump reveals technical aspects of this app. The patent is titled “Bump validation” and as per the abstract, a “bump” occurs when two devices at the same place at the same time indicate their intention to establish a connection for transferring information.

A process for validating bumps is described via flowchart illustrated in FIG. 3, wherein


in steps 305 and 310, the status reports are received from two devices. Normally a server receives status reports from devices, but it is also possible that the server itself is one of the devices. In step 315, the server validates a bump between devices by determining if they were at the same place at the same time and if they intended to establish a connection for transferring information. If a valid bump has occurred, the devices may request user approval in optional step 325. If a valid bump has not occurred, then steps 320 and 325 are not performed; a message may be sent to the devices informing them of failure to complete a valid bump. Finally, if a valid bump has occurred (and optionally been approved by device users) then information is transferred between devices in step 325.

The patent application also described that there is always some uncertainty in a position estimate. For bump validation a position estimate may be determined by any of several methods and need not necessarily include coordinates such as latitude, longitude and altitude. Sometimes other indications, for example an identifier specifying a network node with which a device is communicating, may be sufficient. Although an estimate of absolute position is useful for some applications, bump validation may also proceed based on an estimate of relative position of two devices. It is often sufficient to determine that two devices are in the same place without knowing exactly where that place is.

Position estimates may come from global navigational satellite system (GNSS) receivers, of which global positioning system (GPS) receivers are the most common example. Position may be estimated by, and provided as a service of, a cellular radio network such as an EDGE or 3G network. Relative position may be estimated by environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, light, sound, etc.) near devices and determining whether or not such parameters reported by two different devices match. Further, a device may send out a short-range audio or optical message that, if received by another device, indicates two devices are close to each other. Absolute and/or relative position estimates may also be obtained by combining estimates from two or more sources.

Another patent application assigned to Bump (US20110191438) titled Bump button relates to a fixed bump button, which may: (1) report its identification to a server connected to the internet when the button is bumped by a mobile device; and/or (2) emit a beacon signal identifying the button to a mobile device.

Hence, as may be seen, various technical aspects of this innovative mobile app are covered by two patents, which form the crux of the intangible assets of the company.

If you require consultancy or advice as to how to go about protecting your intellectual capital / innovative ideas, patent application please do not hesitate to write to us at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com.

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