The federal government has awarded Apple a patent for iPhone users to transfer data by bumping together handsets.
If this sounds familiar, it is because bump transfers for both iOS and Android have been possible through apps, most notably an app called Bump that debuted in 2008.
The free app was one of the most popular in the app store with 125 million downloads by 2013. Bump Technologies, the creator of the app, discontinued services in 2014 after it was bought by Google for Google Photos.
Other apps allow for bump or tap transfers, which are particularly handy to pass money from one person to another and this latest patent appears to be a continuation of other Apple patents.
A physical bump or tap would not have to occur if two devices are in range of one another.
According to the summary on Apple’s patent application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office for tap and proximity detection: “A method for detecting the proximity of a signal source using wireless systems is contemplated in which a wires mobile devices wirelessly receives packet from a signal source and determines a received signal strength for each packet.
“The wireless mobile device may determine whether the current distance is sufficient to be enabling conditions such as tap, for example, for data transfer or a transaction between the wireless mobile device and the signal source.”
How Apple’s bump and proximity technology would differ from the various apps is not immediately clear. Apple is known to take existing technologies and attempt to improve its applications for its devices and software.
Apple is routinely awarded patents, sometimes several each week, but not all of Cupertino’s ideas make it to market.