After Amazon introduced their $5 Dash Buttons on March 31st, 2015, the public didn’t really know whether to think this was a logical step in advancing human-computer interactions or if it was mocking consumerism as an April Fool’s Day joke – which just so happened to be the very next day. As it turned out, the Dash Button is very much a real thing and has already received glowing reviews for its ability to eliminate unnecessary computer interactions.
The Dash Button, which is connected to a user’s own WiFi network, can be placed near a number of commonly-used items such as baby diapers, garbage bags, snack items and more. When a specific item runs low, a user simply pushes the Dash Button for that corresponding product and the online retailer immediately processes a next-day delivery order without the need for the user to even log in through a computer or through the Amazon mobile app.
Aiming to get more use out of his own $5 Dash Button, self-described “Startup Dad” Ted Benson of Cloudstitch recently hacked his kid’s Huggies Dash Button to do whatever he wants it to do – and he’s kindly shared his code and process with everybody.
“My wife and I tried a few baby-tracker apps, but they tend to be single-purpose, while your baby’s needs keep changing,” explains Benson.
“And using your smart phone at night disrupts sleep. I want a simple button I can stick to the wall and push to record poops today but wake-ups tomorrow. Lucky for me, Amazon just started shipping their new Dash Buttons, which you can transform into exactly that with just a few minutes.”
After writing a simple program, Benson was able to hijack the Dash Button and turn it into a device that can wake up and connect to a local WiFi network, prevent the button from actually purchasing anything on Amazon, detecting when the button is pushed and finally, recording the button push data to a Google Spreadsheet. In this case, the result is a cheap baby data-collection system that allows Benson and his wife to collect data on their kid’s bathroom patterns.
Of course, the possibilities for such as device are seemingly limitless – and at $5 a pop, it’s possible that somebody could theoretically automate a majority of their daily habits with the push of a button for less than $100 and a handful of IFTTT recipes.
“Regardless of what you think about Dash as a consumer product, it’s an undeniably compelling prototype of what the Internet of Things is going to look like,” adds Benson.
“I bet you can wire up a Dash button like I did in under ten minutes. That’s pretty incredible.”
For the full instructions on hacking your own Dash Button, head over to Benson’s full Medium post.