Happy Fourth of July! To celebrate, we discussed one of the all-time most asked questions on our recent product update (sign up here to get these updates in case you’re not on the list): how does the “magical” data transfer work? We’ve taken some time to share this because we were in the process of filing a patent on it. The short of it is that after trying several different approaches, we ended up using one that uses good old fashion Bluetooth Low Energy (“BLE”) in combination with having the screen sense when the Shine is near it or touching it to initiate the data transfer. That’s it! No magic – just super simple and easy for users. Here’s a video of how you link and sync Shine to your iPhone. Skip to the bottom if you want to avoid the gory details.
The Shine prototype we showed on our Indiegogo campaign used a proprietary two-way ultrasonic technology we developed that worked in combination with the microphone, speaker, capacitive touch screen, and other sensors on the iPhone to inaudibly sync data without using Bluetooth or wifi. We assumed that either of the latter approaches (BLE/wifi) would’ve been problematic since the Shine is a solid metal shell which acts as a Faraday cage to block most RF signals. While this ultrasonic approach worked, it was pretty slow and we realized that in the long run Shine would be a much better product if we had a faster, more reliable communication method that could enable over-the-air firmware upgrades while still be able to penetrate the metal shell. We experimented with a number of different approaches and ended up finding one that involved BLE that would actually work with the metal shell. To make it work robustly, keep the sync experience simple for the user, and retain a long battery life, we would still need to use it in combination with the capacitive touch screen interaction as one of the things that would trigger the communication.
So Shine will still have the same simple data transfer experience you saw on the original video and will work with all the latest iOS devices (includes: iPhone 4s/5, iPod touch 5th gen, iPad 3/4, iPad mini) and many more in the future as BLE becomes ubiquitous. BLE will not work with older iOS devices such as iPhone 4, iPod touch 4th gen, and iPad 2 or earlier. In case you don’t have a compatible iOS device and want a refund, just drop firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re now ramping up to make over 2,000 Shines a day to meet the demand that’s been building, are are still on track to ship to our warehouses in the US mid-JUly. Please remember that if you have a non-US based address, we’ll need your phone number to be able to ship you your Shine(s) since we’re using Fedex.