The real world just got a little more push-button.
This week Amazon quietly listed customizable AWS IoT Buttons for sale on its site, customizable versions of its Amazon Dash buttons. The Dash buttons take the company’s “one-click” ordering quasi-offline by letting you order products such as pet food, toilet paper, or caffeinated beverages by pressing an internet-connected physical button. The idea is that you’ll stick the little buttons wherever you store the product, so that when you’re running low, you need only tap the button and—badda-bing—your order is in progress. Amazon sells more than 100 different buttons today, but until now there’s been no way to create your own.
Amazon pitches the new AWS IoT buttons, which cost $19.95 and should be in stock May 151, as a way for developers to learn how to use the company’s various cloud services, including its “IoT” offering for powering Internet of Things devices. “You can click the button to unlock or start a car, open your garage door, call a cab, call your spouse or a customer service representative, track the use of common household chores, medications or products, or remotely control your home appliances,” the Amazon site boasts.
The possibilities are many, but it’s not clear how useful any of them actually are. Amazon doesn’t indicate any plans to expand its platform to enable non-programmers could make their own buttons, or to allow companies to offer their own Dash buttons to sell to customers (though Amazon does plan to offer the buttons in bulk).
But other companies are already thinking along these lines. The startup IFTTT (short for “if this, then that”) doesn’t offer physical buttons. But the company already makes it possible for consumers to create single-purpose icons on their phones that can be set to, say, send the words “running late” to your spouse or company chat room. And of course there’s the perennially mocked Yo, which lets you send the word “Yo” to a friend with a single click. Amazon’s Dash Button are another example of this radically simplified way of doing things. With its programmable buttons, Amazon is offering another glimpse of the potential push-button future of tech.