17.04.2015

Online purchasing with the press of a button (literally)

Image | Amazon

Buying through the internet is a lot easier than it used to be. In fact we buy, we sell, we give our opinions and we recommend products all through the internet. But can we go further? How can we make the process of buying even faster and more convenient? Amazon has the answer. The e-commerce giant has recently introduced a tiny button that can be placed anywhere in the house to make orders with just one touch. It’s that easy.

The Amazon Dash Button is a very small device designed for everyday consumer goods. For example, buying detergent when you run out of your supply, or when the same thing happens with coffee capsules. With one click, you can ask Amazon. At first glance it may seem very complex and futuristic, but in reality it’s much easier. In order to make the button operational, you have to enter in your credit card, your address and the amount of the product that you usually buy.

The Amazon Dash Button

When you press the button, it connects to the Internet to confirm your order within seconds. A light signal indicates whether the order was successful and if so, in less than two days the package arrives at your home.

Amazon has also thought about the potential problems of the button. If someone in your family or your roommate has already pressed the button before you, only one order will be sent to your home. Are you worried that children might play with the device? Not a problem. There is the possibility to temporarily disable it via a smartphone app. Also, before confirming a purchase, Amazon always sends an immediate alert to your phone. Everything is under control.

Buy, buy, buy — as easy as possible. This is what Amazon aims to do with this device. For now, the magic button is only available in the US and only for premium users of Amazon. Right now, these are the brands that have their own buy button.

As usual on the Internet, the example of Amazon is not unique. There are other buttons with the same or similar functions. This is the case for Click ‘N’ Pizza – a device used to order pizza with one click. Like the Amazon Dash Button, it can be placed anywhere in the house. In this case, the ideal would place on the fridge, as a magnet. The application, developed by the Italian company “The Command”, presented this solution in society at last year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They have already reached an agreement with Pizza Hut in the US and before summer they will start distributing their first buttons. In Spain, Telefonica and Telepizza have also developed a similar technology. In addition to the button on the fridge, the order can also be made via Twitter or a website, with just a few more clicks.

Another interesting example of a single button click is the proposed Flic. This is a project by a group of Swedish entrepreneurs who intends to carry home a button capable of executing any previously programmed action smartphones. Flic connects to Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth Low Energy. It has a range of about 50 meters, and is powered by a button battery that lasts about five years. What can you do with Flic? Some of its common functions are playing music or adjusting the status of smart bulbs. It also allows you to open a smart lock, send emergency messages with your location or, like Click ‘N’ Pizza, order a pizza. Each of the buttons is associated with three different actions.

These are some of the physical buttons that allow us to interact with our digital lives more easily. They are not the only ones, and certainly won’t be the last. The “Internet of things” is growing, and gradually it will incorporate these devices into our daily lives.