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Dimple NFC sticker adds physical buttons to your Android device

A newly developed device uses NFC to add four programmable physical buttons to your Android devices.

A new sticker placed on the back of your Android device uses NFC to add four programmable physical buttons to your phone.

(Credit: Dimple)

Smartphones these days are all about losing the physical buttons — even though that might not necessarily be what consumers want, as evidenced by the popularity of Pressy, the programmable physical button for Android that sits in the 3.5 audio-in. It turns out that Pressy was just the first custom button solution — and now Dimple is taking it even farther.

(Credit: Dimple)

Dimple, by a small startup based out of Wilmington, Delaware, is a slim-profile sticker that adds not one, but four, programmable physical buttons to your NFC-enabled Android device. These can be set to do pretty much anything your device does, including launching apps, taking a picture, making a phone call, controlling your music, or using the camera flash as a flash light.

It uses the Android device's native NFC, harvesting the power the NFC chip radiates, meaning it requires no additional power source. We're not entirely sure exactly how it works — the Dimple team would like to keep the technical details under wraps for the time being — but founder Richard Skrubis assured CNET that the device, which has been in development for 18 months, is performing well in beta testing.

There are a couple of caveats: the Dimple only works on NFC-enabled Android devices running 4.0 or later, and the HTC One is excluded, since the sticker needs to be placed near the NFC antenna. On the HTC One, this is located around the camera lens, which means you'd have to sacrifice the camera for buttons. It also can't work to turn your screen on — for security reasons, stock Android has disabled the ability for peripherals to work with the screen off.

Dimple is due to launch on Indiegogo on 6 May for an early bird pledge of US$15 and a regular pledge of US$25.99. Late pledges and retail will come in at US$28.99. It will be available in three colours — purple, white and grey.

Head over to the Dimple website for more information on the product and to be among the first to know when the Indiegogo campaign goes live.