Last week, Amazon announced the availability of a “generic” Dash button. If you’re not familiar with Dash, then either (1) you aren’t reading my blogs enough (incredible!), (2) you don’t shop with or read about Amazon (no way!) or (3) you’ve been too busy spending time away from your computer or smartphone to do either one of those.
Just in case, here’s a quick refresher: just north of 100 Dash buttons have been created by Amazon to enable instant replenishment of key items such as Gatorade, sunflowers, diapers, condoms, detergent, etc. They work seamlessly with your WiFi, and once you’ve taken the two minutes to set up your button, you can order your item(s) instantly. Heretofore, the Dash buttons have been preordained — that is, labeled with a supplier’s logo and “wired” to a specific product — when ordered from Amazon (at the cost of $US4.99 each that is credited to your first purchase through the button).
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Last week, this changed. Amazon released a non-labeled and unassigned Dash button that links to capabilities — that is, services — on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Gentlemen, we have crossover! This may be the first example (other than the existence of AWS itself, which grew out of excess capacity related to the Amazon infrastructure) of a crossover from Amazon e-commerce or retail to AWS! But why am I and others so excited about this (the new button was sold out almost immediately despite its $US20 price tag)?
Basically, Amazon has provided a $US20 “art of the possible” environment for developers by linking the IoT Dash button to its new Lambda services as well as other capabilities resident in AWS. Oh, yeah, you have to have an AWS account to program the button — of course you do! But once you do, you can create any sort of integration or logic tying button presses to AWS’s IoT and other services. Of course, given that a command can only be a button press, the range of actions is somewhat limited — counting clicks, initiating a process, stopping a process, etc. But since the back end node.js, Python, Java, Lambda, etc facilities are available, a button click can initiate a pretty wide range of services.
Amazon has basically made available $US20 PoCs (proofs-of-concept) to anyone that wants them while exposing unlimited numbers of potentially new users to AWS. Not only is this good for Amazon in terms of increased exposure and new IoT/Dash button applications, it’s good for organisations that want to try out IoT services without making huge commitments. Of course, there’s a “commitment” made to AWS and back end services that might be added beyond those that relate to button activities (data storage, transactions, etc.), but after all, Amazon is a “for profit” company.
A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation to a client that happened to be in financial services, and I asked why, somewhat jokingly, that company could not have a Dash button of its own to enable its customers to hypothetically execute a trade? Turns out I might not have really been joking, and similar examples might not be hypothetical after all.
This article is republished with permission of Gartner