Category Archives: Products

The Amazon Dash Button

Amazon’s branded Dash But­tons were intro­duced in March 2015, allow­ing products to be eas­ily re-ordered with a single click of the bat­tery-powered device — not to be con­fused with the unbranded UK Amazon­Fresh ver­sion (which works like a mini­ature ver­sion of the pop­u­lar hands-free Amazon Echo).

As an inex­pens­ive (US$4.99) wifi-enabled IoT device, in less than 3 months they were start­ing to be re-pur­posed. There are a hand­ful of approaches, from fairly non-tech­nic­al ARP probe detec­tion through to bare-met­al repro­gram­ming. Amazon them­selves are also reach­ing out to developers and smal­ler brands with their Dash Replen­ish­ment Ser­vice.

Get­ting star­ted seems pretty simple — when you get a Dash but­ton, Amazon gives you a list of setup instruc­tions to get going. Just fol­low their list of instruc­tions, but don’t com­plete the final step . Do not select a product, and just exit the app.

Most tech­niques use some­thing like IFTT to con­nect the but­ton event to a IoT trig­ger of your choos­ing. Instruct­ables has a great step-by-step tutori­al, and there’s some great open-source code avail­able on GitHub.

Amazon Dash Button (Tide) on washing machine
The Dash But­ton as it it usu­ally used — to order more Amazon products (such as wash­ing powder).

The detailed specs:

  • The CPU is a STM32F205RG6 pro­cessor which is an ARM Cor­tex-M3 that can run up to 120mhz and has 128 kilo­bytes of RAM and 1 mega­byte of flash memory for pro­gram storage
  • The WiFi mod­ule is a BCM943362 mod­ule which in com­bin­a­tion with the CPU make it a plat­form for Broadcom’s WICED SDK
  • There’s a 16 mega­bit SPI flash ROM which is typ­ic­ally used in con­junc­tion with the WICED SDK for stor­ing applic­a­tion data
  • An ADMP441 micro­phone is con­nec­ted to the CPU and used by the Dash iOS applic­a­tion to con­fig­ure the device using the speak­er on a phone/tablet
  • There’s a single RGB LED and a button

Quite power­ful for US$5.

How­ever, the next step in this evol­u­tion has just been released — the AWS IoT But­ton.

The AWS IoT But­ton is a pro­gram­mable but­ton based on the Amazon Dash But­ton hard­ware. This simple Wi-Fi device is easy to con­fig­ure and designed for developers to get star­ted with AWS IoT, AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SNS, and many oth­er Amazon Web Ser­vices without writ­ing device-spe­cif­ic code. 

Tar­geted at developers, this US$20 ver­sion con­nects to the web using the Amazon Web Ser­vices Lambda plat­form without writ­ing a line of code (ok, so not developers then). How­ever, even the “Hello World” example described here seems quite tech­nic­al — in some ways, even more so than hack­ing the ori­gin­al (and at four times the cost). It seems to have three types of but­ton pushes, though — short, long and double for more interactions.

AWS IoT enables Inter­net-con­nec­ted things to con­nect to the AWS cloud and lets applic­a­tions in the cloud inter­act with Inter­net-con­nec­ted things. Com­mon IoT applic­a­tions either col­lect and pro­cess tele­metry from devices or enable users to con­trol a device remotely.
Zoom ARQ


The ZOOM ARQ Aero Rhyth­mTrak is an all-in-one pro­duc­tion and live per­form­ance instru­ment which includes an integ­rated drum machine, sequen­cer, syn­thes­izer, loop­er, and MIDI con­trol­ler with a built-in accelerometer.

One trend in music instru­ments devel­op­ment is get­ting away from lin­ear inter­faces based on knobs and keys, and instead cre­at­ing devices that allow phys­ic­al intu­it­ive inter­ac­tion and designed for live per­form­ances. That is where Zoom ARQ comes in, one of the most amaz­ing music instru­ments of the year. Zoom ARQ is a cir­cu­lar device with a lighted ring that lets you visu­al­ize music as a true loop and it func­tions as a drum machine, sequen­cer, syn­thes­izer, loop­er and MIDI con­trol­ler at the same time. ARQ is com­pletely wire­less and can be used as a stan­dalone instru­ment or con­nec­ted to a com­puter. It is a show in itself and a one-of-a-kind live music experience.

Just wait until Kier­an Heb­den gets his hands on it!

via and

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable (and more…)

The Stan­ley Par­able (adap­ted from the free ori­gin­al Half-Life 2 mod) is an explor­a­tion of story, games, and choice. Except the story does­n’t mat­ter, it might not even be a game, and if you ever actu­ally do have a choice, well let me know how you did it.

It was a col­lab­or­a­tion between Dav­ey and UK design­er Wil­li­am Pugh, work­ing togeth­er as Galactic Cafe. The game expan­ded sub­stan­tially upon the mod ver­sion, adding sub­stan­tial amounts of new con­tent, new end­ings, a com­plete over­haul of the visu­al designs, and new voice­work from Kevan Brighting.

The game was one of the first to be approved for Steam via the Green­light com­munity fea­ture. It went on to sell over a mil­lion cop­ies, win such awards as the IGF 2014 Audi­ence Choice award, and be fea­tured in schools and museums all over the world.

A free demo and the full ver­sion can be pur­chased here.

The Begin­ner­’s Guide is a nar­rat­ive video game for Mac and PC. It lasts about an hour and a half and has no tra­di­tion­al mech­an­ics, no goals or object­ives. Instead, it tells the story of a per­son strug­gling to deal with some­thing they do not under­stand. It can be pur­chased here.

Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger And The Ter­ribly Cursed Emer­ald: A Whirl­wind Heist is a free-to-play “15 minute heist game” in which you’ll become a mas­ter thief, burg­lar­iz­ing his way across the hot­test sum­mer in Europe. It fea­tures voice act­ing by Brit­ish comedi­an Simon Ams­tell, formerly the host of Nev­er Mind the Buzz­cocks, who seems to be hav­ing a bit of a stress­ful time explain­ing exactly what it is you’ll be doing on this job.

Portrait by Jonathan Worth

An Internet of Things that act like inkjet printers

Cory Doc­torow explains at O’Reilly’s OSCON (cov­er­ing open source tools, enter­prise, archi­tec­ture, infra­struc­ture, com­munity and more) in Aus­tin, Texas why the Inter­net of Things that includes DRM may not be the best option.

It may, in fact be the worst.

Cory is a sci­ence fic­tion nov­el­ist, blog­ger and tech­no­logy act­iv­ist. He is the co-edit­or of the pop­u­lar web­log Boing Boing, and a con­trib­ut­or to The Guard­i­an, Pub­lish­ers Weekly, Wired, and many oth­er news­pa­pers, magazines and web­sites. He is a spe­cial con­sult­ant to the Elec­tron­ic Fron­ti­er Found­a­tion, a non-profit civil liber­ties group that defends free­dom in tech­no­logy law, policy, stand­ards and treat­ies. He holds an hon­or­ary doc­tor­ate in com­puter sci­ence from the Open Uni­ver­sity (UK), where he is a Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or; in 2007, he served as the Ful­bright Chair at the Annen­berg Cen­ter for Pub­lic Dip­lomacy at the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern California.


Hemingway (logo)

Do your headlines have a Beyoncé-level of engagement?

Like the lead para­graph in a news story or thes­is in an essay, your head­line is your one true sen­tence: the single most import­ant asset for cap­tur­ing atten­tion in the feed.

Hem­ing­way is Sharethrough’s new AI-powered head­line ana­lyz­er, an easy-to-use, pub­licly avail­able tool that puts a wealth of pro­pri­et­ary data sci­ence and lin­guist­ic ana­lys­is at your fin­ger­tips for the first time. This new tool is free for any­one look­ing to nav­ig­ate the new pres­sures and demands in con­tent mar­ket­ing, help­ing them ana­lyze and quickly improve the qual­ity of their head­lines, optim­iz­ing for both impres­sion and engagement.

Below are the intial res­ults for this art­icle’s head­line (pre-Bey­on­cé).

Hemingway (actual headline result)

Using this ana­lys­er, I was able to push my Head­line Qual­ity Score from 62 to 79%. I’m not sure adding Bey­on­cé improved your level of engage­ment after you arrived, but you clicked on the head­line though, did­n’t you? Appar­ently that’s 98% of the prob­lem solved.

How does it work?

The Head­line Qual­ity Score is based on a mul­tivari­ate lin­guist­ic algorithm built on the prin­ciples of Beha­vi­or Mod­el the­ory and Sharethrough’s neur­os­cience and advert­ising research. The algorithm takes into account more than 300 unique vari­ables, includ­ing EEG data and Nat­ur­al Lan­guage Pro­cessing, enabling your nat­ive ads to cap­ture atten­tion, increase engage­ment and deliv­er a stronger impression.

Basic­ally, it offers sug­ges­tions to improve click­throughs — but’s it not going to write bet­ter head­lines for you.

Back to work, you Hemingway-wannabe.


Transhumanism & Biohacking

Wear­able tech­no­logy has taken the next logic­al step — implants.

From LEDs to NFCs and RFIDs, con­sumers are look­ing at ways of apply­ing med­ic­al approaches to implant con­sumer-grade tech­no­logy. So-called Grind­house Wet­ware (or “Grinders”) view this as next level body aug­ment­a­tion (i.e. pier­cings on ster­oids), and with the Maker revolu­tion you can now cheer­fully implant this tech­no­logy your­self at home. You can already buy an all-in-one syr­inge kit (based on anim­al Life­Ch­ip transpon­ders — for when your cat or dog goes missing).

Body­hack­ing — turn­ing your­self into a cyborg — also includes enhance­ments to exist­ing senses (such as infra-red eye­sight) or cre­at­ing new senses (such as sens­ing mag­net­ic north or radio fre­quen­cies). A lot of this tech­no­logy was ini­tially developed for people with dis­ab­il­it­ies or impair­ments (such as coch­lear implants for the deaf, and ret­ina implants for the blind). Arti­fi­cial hearts and pace­makers could be seen as the ancest­ors of embed­ded tech.

It’s only a mat­ter of time before you’ll be able to swipe your Oyster card with your wrist. Nev­er for­get your keys again!

via and

Optical Data Storage Squeezes 360TB on to a Quartz Disc — Forever

Research­ers at Southamp­ton Uni­ver­sity in the UK have now writ­ten a series of major works to small glass discs– includ­ing the Uni­ver­sal Declar­a­tion of Human Rights, Newton’s Opticks, the Magna Carta and the Kings James Bible. The dens­ity of the data aboard these discs sug­gests that they could squeeze a total of 360 tera­bytes onto a single piece of quartz. They also point out that the data is extremely stable: It could endure for as long as 13.8 bil­lion years at tem­per­at­ures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


A Raspberry Pi powered Magic Mirror


Blog­ger Dylan Pierce decided he wanted to give someone the gift of a smart mir­ror. He went with an afford­able, DIY approach and with just a little bit of cod­ing and some ingenu­ity, he was able to make a mir­ror that’s got people like me drool­ing all over it. Here’s how he did it.


Pi Zero computer so cheap it comes free with magazine


The Pi Zero is a fully fledged com­puter which meas­ures just 6.5cm by 3cm. Made in Wales, it sells for just £4 in the UK and $5 in the US. Rasp­berry Pi is also giv­ing the device away for free with the pur­chase of its £5.99 monthly magazine, The MagPi.

How­ever, it’s not the only kid on the block. The C.H.I.P. (from Next Thing Co.) launched earli­er this year has a sim­il­ar form factor and sim­il­ar price. Here’s a blow-by-blow com­par­is­on — but it’s dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks.

Either way, these sub £10 com­puters will dis­rupt many exist­ing busi­ness mod­els (and cre­ate a few new ones, as well).


Smart products, smart makers


The inter­net of things will strengthen man­u­fac­tur­ers’ hands in the battle for cus­tom­er loy­alty. A com­mod­ity ought to be “a very trivi­al thing”, Karl Marx argued in Cap­it­al, and “eas­ily under­stood”. But in fact it is the oppos­ite: “a very queer thing, abound­ing in meta­phys­ic­al sub­tleties and theo­lo­gic­al niceties.”


Lytro Illum light field camera

Lytro’s approach to pho­to­graphy is to cap­ture as much data from the field of light as pos­sible – instead of focus­sing on one par­tic­u­lar setup to cap­ture the moment. The multi-dimen­sion­al image is cap­tured with an array of micro-lenses. This wealth of data then gets trans­lated to an inter­act­ive ‘image-scape’ where you can redefine the focus freely, as many times you want.

Coca-Cola’s “Small World Machines”

People from both coun­tries who engaged with the screens were encour­aged to com­plete a friendly task togeth­er such as wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance before they shared a Coca-Cola. 

Coca-Cola recently put digit­al sig­nage-enabled and con­nec­ted vend­ing kiosks in two pop­u­lar shop­ping malls in Lahore (Pakistan) and New Del­hi (India), hos­tile neigh­bors with sim­mer­ing resent­ments that once were part of the same nation.

Of course we know that The Coca-Cola Com­pany is really a heart­less cor­por­ate behemoth, try­ing to win mar­ket share by win­ning the hearts and minds of the people.

Sure, it’s a little (ok, per­haps overly) sweet, but a step in the right dir­ec­tion. Per­haps next we’ll have coke-sponsored NGO initiatives?


Jacob Sutton’s L.E.D. Surfer

“Film­ing in the suit was the most sur­real thing I’ve done in 20 years of snow­board­ing,” says Hughes of the charged salo­pettes. “Luck­ily there was plenty of vin rouge to keep me warm, and Jac­ob’s enthu­si­asm kept every­one going through the cold nights.”

“The shoot was really chal­len­ging. Not only were we using exper­i­ment­al tech­no­logy in terms of the suit, but we were shoot­ing in deep snow at night and the tem­per­at­ure was ‑25C. We were shoot­ing for between 6–8 hours a night for three nights.”

via and inter­views via

Mogees — play the world

Mogees is a sys­tem that allows one to trans­form any object into a music­al instru­ment just by pla­cing a con­tact micro­phone on it. Mogees lets artists to take advant­age of every­day objects using them as music­al instru­ments, break­ing the bound­ar­ies between the digit­al and the real world.

via and

Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid

What would hap­pen if we could gen­er­ate power from our win­dowpanes? In this mov­ing talk, entre­pren­eur Justin Hall-Tip­ping shows the mater­i­als that could make that pos­sible, and how ques­tion­ing our notion of ‘nor­mal’ can lead to extraordin­ary breakthroughs.


Cosmic Motors’ Detonator

From Daniel Simon — the former VW design­er and futur­ist who also penned the Light Cycles for Tron: Leg­acy. Its got a 30-inch front wheel and dual 96 volt elec­tric motors in the hub of the 27 inch rear wheel. The e‑bike is powered by lith­i­um-ion bat­ter­ies, and charges in an hour when plugged into a 110 volt out­let. Park­er Broth­ers estim­ates the bike has a 80–100 mile range when fully charged, and its been bench tested to a 120 mph top speed.