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?


A Day Made of Glass

Corning’s view of the future — screens, mir­rors and assort­ed UI (but hope­ful­ly, not music).


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.