Amazon unveils item-ordering Dash buttons

April 1, 2015 | 12:44

Tags: #april-fool #internet-of-things #iot

Companies: #amazon

Amazon has officially won April Fool's Day 2015 with the announcement of branded buttons which order products via your home internet connection - something so silly everyone took it for a joke until the company confirmed that it was entirely serious.

It's traditional for the PR industry to go nuts on April Fool's Day with 'wacky' and 'clever' pitches for products that will never exist, in a transparent attempt to win column inches. Amazon, however, appears to have found a better way to win the day: announcing a product which appears to be a joke but which is actually very real indeed. Enter Amazon Dash.

Amazon's first serious footsteps into the Internet of Things (IoT) market, Amazon Dash is built on the old tech-gazing standby of the 'smart fridge' which reorders products when you're running low. Rather than an automated system, however, the Amazon Dash takes the form of buttons featuring brand logos. These buttons are stuck near where you stock products from said brands, then when you're running low you simply press the button and have an order placed on your Amazon account. Naturally, there is some small measure of protection involved: multiple presses will not result in multiple orders, with the button lying dormant until the delivery has been confirmed, while order notifications are sent to an associated mobile device from which they can be cancelled if necessary.

Designed as the logical progression for Amazon's One-Click ordering system and removing the final barrier to impulse purchasing - the need to actually sit at a computer or get out your smartphone - Amazon Dash is launching as an invite-only test in the US. Exclusive to the company's Prime customers, who pay an annual fee in exchange for video streaming and free delivery, the buttons will be provided free of charge.

The buttons are themselves an extension of a new beta-level service dubbed the Dash Replenishment Service, which allows smart objects - everything from washing machines to water filters and coffee grinders to printers - to order their own consumables as they run low. The Dash Button, Amazon explains, is an extension of the concept for consumables that don't have an associated smart object - like toilet paper or ketchup.

It all sounds faintly ridiculous, and given the day would be dismissed as a joke - but the company's PR department has confirmed that it is very real, pointing to terms and conditions dated the day before April Fool's Day. Amazon has also released a teaser video, available below, demonstrating the system, while more information is available on the official website.

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