What is it?
Dubmate is a portable device designed to share files through a tangible user interface (TUI) avoiding the use of computers.

Who is it for?

Dubmate is for people who want to share files “face-to-face” in an intuitive and immediate way. The shared content can span from a business card to a whole portfolio, personal documents, movies and songs etc.

Why is it valuable?

  • Quality over quantity: as in the MixTape culture, the shared content is highly selected
  • Trustable content: face-to-face personal exchange
  • Fun and free: sharing files can be a beautiful social experience
  • Simple to use: very low learning curve, plug and play
  • Audiocassette metaphor: A-side for public files and B-side for personal files
  • Intuitive user interface: light feedback, no screens or buttons, touch sensors & tactile surface design, physical gestures (to drag files, check battery level and the space available)
  • Compatible with USB technology
  • No computer needed to transfer files: autonomous, stand-alone device
  • Customisable: the user can choose personal colour themes, turning the device into a unique object
  • Access to information: physical peer-to-peer, allowing free information flow without any further infrastructure.

How does it work?
Each device contains custom made PCBs, touch sensors pads, serial communication & USB ports that allow Dubmate to communicate with other devices. Main PCB contains: 2 RGB Leds; 2 white Leds; a 3-axis accelerometer; ATmega168 CPU; & 1 Omron touch sensor chip. The Touch Sensor Pad: 5 custom made antennas for the capacitive sensors

File sharing between 2 Dubmates:
Serial port communication, magnet connection, double-side file transfer: slide the content between the two Dubmates. Using capacitive sensors, RGB light feedback

File sharing between Dubmate and USB stick:
USB protocol communication, double side file transfer: slide the content between Dubmate and USB stick. Using capacitive sensors, RGB and white light feedback

File sharing between Dubmate and computer:
USB protocol communication
Software to set up preferences: open all the slots to receive and send files, choose the personal colour theme

What were your key learnings?

  • Importance of discussion – in an early phase – about the whole design process from concept to final working prototype (including a review with Durrell Bishop)
  • Defining the device’s functions and behaviours and choose the right electronic components
  • Working and designing with physical and technical limitations (i.e. no screen interface, small size)
  • Dealing with a short time span (order components on time, organise the work flow)
  • File sharing ethic, DRM issues (Hacker philosophy, Pirate Bay project)
  • Rapid PCB production (customised design, Eagle software, surface mounted components)
  • Rapid prototyping (3D ABS printer)
  • Laser cutter prototyping

Special thanks to David Cuartielles, David Mellis & Nunzia Coco.