Dimple NFC-enabled buttons customize the Android experience
By Chris Wood
May 13, 2014
Dimple is a simple but ingenious accessory that aims to augment the functionality of almost any device running Android 4.0 or above. The attachment, which is currently looking for funding on Indiegogo, takes the form of a small, NFC-enabled sticker with user-configurable buttons that you simply stick to the back of your device.
While the industry trend for thin, sleek devices with edge-to-edge displays is certainly not something we would complain about, it has led to a notable lack of physical buttons. Some tasks, like turning on your phone’s flashlight app or snapping a picture with its camera, take longer and are more tedious to perform than if there were actual, physical buttons designed for the job. If you’re one of the people who lament the decline of the button, then a Dimple might just be for you.
The waterproof stickers come in four-button and two-button versions, both available in three different colors. They can be placed either directly on the back of the device (be it a smartphone or tablet) or on the back of a case, providing it's not made of metal. The buttons can be configured to perform a wide variety of tasks from launching apps or placing calls, to instantly taking photos or controlling music apps. They can also be configured to provide haptic feedback when pressed.
In addition to the free companion app, the product’s creators plan to make the Dimple’s API available, meaning that in time, you should be able to make the NFC buttons perform almost any function your device provides. There’s also nothing stopping users from placing more than one Dimple on their device, meaning you could in theory add 8, 12 or even 16 extra buttons, though it’s unclear why anyone would want to.
Unfortunately, the stickers won’t work with every Android 4.0+ device out there. Anyone rocking an HTC One (M7 or M8) will be disappointed, as will anyone else with a metal device, as the more premium material means designers have to place the NFC antenna in unusual places. For example, the NFC module on the HTC One (M8) is located around the camera, meaning you’d have to block the device’s lens to make Dimple work.
Despite being only a fifth of the way through its five-week crowd-funding effort, the project has already exceeded its US$43,000 target. As such, the project’s creators have identified a number of stretch goals including more colors and perhaps most interestingly, a case that incorporates two buttons, designed to work with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, Google Nexus 5 and even the metal HTC One (M7 and M8).
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen NFC technology used to provide extra functionality to smart devices. Samsung’s TecTiles, launched alongside the Galaxy S3 smartphone back in 2012, provided very similar functionality but offered less tactile feedback and customization.
The two-button version of Dimple will be available for $17, while the larger, four-button version will set you back $27. With the crowd-funding project having already exceeded its target, the first Dimple units are expected to ship in August of this year.
Check out the video below for a closer look at the Dimple accessories.