Flic success at IFA – Still very unique


IFA – One of Europe’s biggest trade show for Consumer electronics

We are back from IFA. For those of you not familiar with IFA, it’s the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances held in Berlin, Germany. Tech enthusiasts from all over the world are there to see what’s new in the market and what’s about to come out. IFA brings together almost 2 000 exhibitors and around 60-70 000 trade visitors and it is a great way for us to meet distributors, partners and customers in one place in a short space of time. Together with our friends at Hardware Club, we demonstrated Flic at IFA NEXT, a dedicated and exclusive area where new and innovative tech is on display.

Big interest for Flic

It’s our second year at IFA, and it is fun to see that the interest for Flic remains high, disregarding if its distributors, retailers, companies or consumers. What fascinates people the most about Flic is that you can do so many different things in such a simple matter. There is no product like Flic on the market and everyone can use Flic where they can find their simple and everyday use of it. Also, Flic is still very unique since it functions with so many different brands and smart home platforms which many other smart home devices do not.

Flic – branded buttons for corporate gifting

This year, we also had a more B2B focus than previous years and it was great to see the positive response. Over the years, we have had a core B2C focus but have made some deals where companies have been able to brand their own buttons (for instance “OneClickPizza” button with Dominos or recently the “SaveMe” button with Clarion Hotels.) Since the spring, we have turned this into a new line of business where companies can print their own logo/brand on buttons and give it away or use it as a Flic button, we simply call it Flic Corporate Gifting.

This is the perfect gift to your loyal customers, best suppliers or great employees. People are tired of getting USB sticks, Powerbanks or small Bluetooth speakers. Flic is a unique gift and can be used by anyone that has a smartphone and something that the customer could use everyday with your brand on it. We also have had several companies order customized buttons for special events or marketing activities.

Make sure you contact us now for your customized Flic for the upcoming holidays. We are on back order for customized buttons but thanks to our hard-working team we should still be able to ship within some weeks depending on the order size.

Visit https://flic.io/corporate-gifting for information about corporate buttons & gifting.

Whats next..

So what’s next you might wonder.. well, we have plenty of things coming up. We have our next product the Flic Hub which we are proud to add to the Flic family later this year and we have many great stories to share regarding the use of the Flic Hub in people’s home and especially within B2B. You can still order the Flic Hub at a discounted price here.

Other than that, we find more and more different use cases for Flic and thanks to that we reach new customers all the time. I can promise you that we have some cool stories to share in the next coming months, so stay tuned.

Daniel Abdiu – Chief Operating Officer

Musicians turn the page with Flic

Flic Page turner for forScore

We constantly see new use cases for Flic buttons, in fields we never thought about. Recently, we found an idea at the Flic Ideas Forum that we decided to explore.

“O…….M………G

IT WORKED!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

This is a quality of life changer!!!

I will be sure to share with all my teacher friends.

Thank you again!!

Jim”

 

Can Flic buttons be a quality-of-life changer? Jim above, a music teacher in Qatar, found out that he can use a Flic button to turn pages on an iPad.

Newzik app in action

Simple as that may seem, Jim now uses Flics to turn pages of sheet music when he teaches and performs live. As a conductor, he can hold the tiny buttons in the same hand as his conductor’s baton and press when it’s time to change page.

Before Flic, he had to interrupt his flow by touching the mounted iPad in front of him. Jim uses forScore to read notes, the oldest iPad app for sheet music.

Newzik, a digital sheet music app with a focus on collaborative music, work just as well with Flic. Aurélia Azoulay, Head of Business Development at Newzik, shares her thoughts:

“Using Flic to turn pages is with Newzik is a great idea. Our partner orchestras and teaching classes often raise the fact that they have to look at their feet to use pedals. With Newzik’s cloud-based platform, a conductor or a teacher could even use one Flic to turn the pages of all the musicians’ iPads synchronized.”

The Setlists app

Classical music is not the only application for Flic as a page turner. David Hellgren is a guitar player and singer from Sweden, who read lyrics with the Setlists app for iPad when he performs.

“I’ve got Flic mounted on my guitar band, and press it to scroll the Setlist App when I sing. It just looks awkward if I would reach for the iPad when I perform.”

 

We just released a new version of the Flic App for iOS that includes support for forScore, Newzik, and Setlists. If you are a musician yourself, try it out! If you would like to share your experiences, a short note on the Flic Community is much appreciated! And if you know professional musicians that may find this useful, please share.

Flic can be mounted on instruments and stands.

 

Read more and order a Flic button here.

 

Next thing? We suspect that Flic is being extensively used on motorcycles. If you use it that way, please let us know – we would love a short interview to see how we can make Flic better for you.

Love, The Flic Team.

 Flic for professional athletes

Flic is a proud sponsor of Swedish Open. All tennis players get their own special edition Flic button to keep track on their training.

Flic - sponsors of Swedish Open

How it started

It’s a Monday morning, and I just arrived at the office sitting with my first cup of coffee and going through the inbox. There is a mail from a person who loves Flic and would like to give us the opportunity to reach out to the professional tennis players at Swedish Open in Båstad this year.

At first, I was a bit skeptical. How would professional tennis players use Flic? I realized that Flic could be the perfect training partner for athletes. We started the conversation to see what we could offer to the professional tennis players attending Swedish Open.

Just as any individual, you sometimes need some extra help to make it simpler and more convenient for you when training. As a tennis player, you need to keep track of progress and how you perform on each training to become a better player.

What if you could track how many successful aces you do, count your training reps quickly or, for instance, track your training exercise with just a click of a button. With Flic, you can do all that and more without touching the smartphone while doing it.

 

The sponsorship

To have a successful sponsorship, you need to find the correct audience and make sure your product and brand applies to them. We thought for a while on how to make this as good as possible. Our CEO Elin came up with the idea that we should create an exclusive Swedish Open edition of Flic to all the tennis players attending the tournament.

As we are an innovative startup, we do not hesitate to make things a reality when a good idea comes up. Our designer started working on a suggestion. The day after we had a clean design and roughly one week later we had the final version in our hands ready to send out.

Each professional tennis player attending the tournament gets one of these buttons together with instructions on how to use it for their training or other purposes. We have the opportunity to talk to the players and get their feedback on the button and see if we can find more use cases together for Flic.

Flic sponsor Swedish Open
Custom Flic buttons for the athletes.

Swedish Open

The tournament in Båstad, Sweden, is one of the highest ranked tournaments by the players themselves. They love the atmosphere around it and the treatment they get from the organizers. To be part of that and to be one of the brands supporting it is, of course, an honor. We are happy to show both the players and all the visitors our Swedish innovation that makes life simpler in so many ways both in your ordinary life and in your life as a professional athlete.

So, head over to http://flic.io and get your own Flic. Use it as your personal trainer just like the professionals, such as the famous player Tommy Haas who now uses Flic just as all the other attendees.

Flic sponsor Swedish Open
Tommy Haas, his Flic and me

Daniel Abdiu – Chief Operating Officer

Flic + Flow – get the most out of your working day

At Shortcut Labs, we are on a mission to defeat complexity. Everything we do is aimed towards helping people achieve more with less effort. This is where our new integration with Microsoft Flow comes into the conversation. For those not familiar with Flow, it is the latest contribution to automated workflows. It is an awesome suite of powerful and automated flows that will empower Flic users with even more options and possibilities. It gives full access to the Microsoft Suite as well as 100+ other services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more. By joining Microsoft in the quest of helping people work smarter and faster, we give you a convenient alternative to activating tasks and processes – a simple push of a button is all that’s needed.

Here are some examples of what you can do with Flow and Flic to get the most out of your working day;

alt text

Block your calendar
Blocking your calendar is a super weapon for better focus. Are you in flow and don’t want anyone to interrupt? Press Flic to block a “Do not disturb” afternoon in your Office 365 calendar. Urgent meeting? Press Flic to block out your calendar for the next hour.

Press Flic to track working hours in Google Sheet or Excel
Don’t hassle with time tracking software on your smartphone. Mount a Flic button to your desk and track how much time you spend at work or on your different projects. You can track up to three projects with one button – one command per project. Afraid that you might be missing a billable hour? Don’t worry, you can get an email notification for every successful flow run.

I’m going for lunch, who is coming?
Although eating lunch alone while you unravel a report or scroll through a spreadsheet is a way to get more out of your working hours, leaving your cubicle for a lunch out with your co-workers is a great opportunity to recharge. But don’t waste time asking around who wants to join you for lunch, just press Flic to send a slack message to your colleagues. Customize the message according to your liking and send it as a direct message or to a specific channel.

We also see huge potential in how Flow and Flic can help brick and mortar stores track important events such as;

  • How many visitors did you have today?
  • How many of those were men, how many were women?
  • How many cups of coffee did you serve?
  • How many lunchboxes were left to waste?
  • How many customers were happy with your service?

These are just some key insights that you can track by pressing Flic and link the data to Excel or Google Sheets. If using Excel, you can also automatically forward the data to Microsoft’s powerful dashboard tool PowerBi. This way you can present real-time data in beautiful graphs and diagrams.

Check out all our templates here and stay tuned, we will continue to update this site with new, powerful ways to help increase productivity.

Don’t have a Flic yet? Buy it here!

Love, The Flic team

Introducing: Shortcut buttons for Mac

Actual, wireless push buttons, not much bigger than the keys on your keyboard, that connects to your Mac through Bluetooth. No dongle required.

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Today we’re proud to release the Flic App for Mac. It’s quite simple: we give you extra buttons for your Mac. Good’ol favorite buttons, but for your desk.

The Flic Mac App that we release today can be used to create shortcuts in two ways:
Pair Flic buttons to your Mac to quickly execute your favorite functions
Use Widgets to run shortcuts from your notification center without the need of Flic.

Download it here.

How to use it?
Here is what we thought about:

  • Keynote – use Flic as a tiny presentation clicker without the annoying Bluetooth dongle
  • Timely – use Flics to report time spent on multiple projects beautifully
  • Spotify – you know that play/pause function button that never prioritizes Spotify and that no longer exists on TouchBar? That, but wireless and working.
  • Smart home (Hue, LifX, Wink, Wemo)- Control light and music in the office without disturbing your workflow
  • IFTTT and Zapier to run Web scripts or controlling your other gadgets.
  • Slack – to let colleagues know you made a sale or that you’re going for lunch.
  • Internet Request – send a REST command on a click o a button.

Our Beta testers wanted this, so we added it:

  • VLC – Using a Mac as a media center? Flic to control it.
  • ChromeCast – stream pre-defined content with the click of a button. Your kids will love it.
  • XCode – automate your hacking.
  • Web browser – click to open a site.

If you miss a functionality, please suggest an idea here.

Just like in the Flic apps for iOS and Android, you can have multiple Flic buttons connected to a Mac. Each Flic can be individually configured to do multiple commands on either click, double click and hold.

In this setup, I have a green, a white and a turquoise Flic (all mounted on my external screen), a Widget to control the lights in my office and a widget to do this. Access the widget in the Mac notification center.

alt text

If you already have Flic – good for you! The new Mac app is free to download here. If you don’t have a Flic yet – buy it here or start off by trying widgets in the Mac app without Flic.

Bringing our expertise to a new platform

When we invented the smart button in 2013, we wanted to create a tool to save people’s time and to reduce complexity in technology. We had several use cases in mind. Put Flic in your home to control lights and music. Wear Flic to send distress messages or tell RunKeeper to start tracking your work-out. Give grandma buttons to call you easier. Take smartphone pictures from afar.

We came up with hundreds of applications and things to control with the button and built one of the most extensive apps we have ever seen, natively on both iOS and Android, implementing almost everything our customers wanted a button for.

Now we bring all that to Mac, along with the FlicLib – probably the best Bluetooth Low Energy library out there. Expect lots of new functionality to be added soon, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Love, The Flic team

What is Flic?

A button with powers?

Imagine a button that can control your smartphone. A button that you could use to take control of your apps without having to fumble with your phone every time you want to do something.

Wait, what?

Well think about it. We use our smartphones on a daily basis to do a bunch of things. We make phone calls, send texts and emails, we set our alarms, we update our calendars, we play music and some of us even use it to control our smart home devices like our lights and stereos. These things become time consuming, so imagine you could do these things with a little button.

There’s this guy called Joacim. One day he decided to quit tobacco, so he decided to keep track of his tobacco intake through an app. Quite quickly he start finding this to be a time consuming task – getting his phone out, unlocking it and find the app that is tracking his intake. But what if I had a button? – he thought. And so this is where the idea of Flic was born, a button to control your smartphone apps.

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So what can it do?

Basically Flic functions as a remote that gives you the power to execute actions through your smartphone, without using your smartphone. An action, for example, would include the camera in your phone taking a photo, or the timer taking time. Your smartphone only acts as a medium and an object to store all your apps. So what happens is that you download the free Flic app to your smartphone and connect this little button to it using Bluetooth, and start adding your actions. Simple!

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How do I control my actions?

Well Flic has three triggers that actions can be linked to. These triggers are Click, Double Click and Hold. This means that for each of these three triggers you can choose to execute one action, or several actions simultaneously. So you could choose to trigger one action like sending a message that shares your current location. Or you could choose to trigger several actions at once, so that with one Click you could turn on your music, track your workout and send an email.

Pretty cool huh?

This means that you can perform the actions of several apps, with one push. Instead of going into each app and executing the action one by one, you can pre-define your Flic to do it for you, with one push of a button.

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Ok cool, but how can I use it?

Well first of all, you can use more than one Flic with one phone, or share your Flic with others. This means that you can have them all over your house, or your car, or even the office. Instead of carrying them around, you can also choose to stick them to any surface with the adhesive tape on its back! So as long as your smartphone and Flic are within 50 meters of each other, you can place them anywhere. Even outside, since they’re weather and dust resistant. Also, Flic will work for up to 18 months and then you can just change the battery. Easy!

At home you could use Flic to help you with your morning work out. With a single click you can turn on your music, start your timer, and have Runkeeper track your workout. With a double click you can keep track of your workout reps. Lastly, with the hold trigger you can hang up any incoming calls that might interrupt your workout.

In your car you could use Flic to help you keep your hands off your phone. With a single click you can play and pause your music, send a text message to a specified contact that you are on your way and start your navigation system. With a double click you can skip to the next track. Lastly, with the hold trigger you can share your location with a specified contact.

At your office you could use Flic to help you use your time in a productive way. With a single click you can set on a timer, and at the same time slack a post to your colleagues that you should not be disturbed. With a double click you can send a gmail to a group of people informing them that the meeting is starting in 5 minutes. Lastly, with the hold trigger you can hang up your incoming calls when you are in the middle of a meeting (and with Android you can even set a predefined message to be send to the caller to explain why you have hung up their call.)

These might be ways that I would use it, but if you can’t see an example that you would use, don’t worry because there are over 40 other actions on iOS and over 60 other actions on Android that you can execute with Flic using your phone.

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Eh, I’m still not sure – what else?

Hey, that’s okay! Why not try Flic for free first with Flic Tasks! Flic Tasks is a part of the free Flic app (download it here: Flic for iPhone, Flic for Android). It lets you test the process of how a Flic would work, but without the button and only using your smartphone.

So download the Flic app, open it and follow the five simple steps below:

  1. Tap on TASKS next to FLICS.
  2. Tap the “+” icon in the bottom right corner to add a new “task”
  3. Press the “+” icon to add a new action (iOS) / Press “Action Chain” (Android)
  4. Choose which action you would like to execute
  5. Execute your actions from the Notification Center (iOS) or Notification Bar (Android)

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What are others saying about it?

Over 150,000 Flics have been sold and shipped to over 110 different countries, so a lot of people are using it. Mainly they are calling it a great and smart little button that works perfectly. Even the press has been positive to Flic. Like The Wall Street Journal said that “Flic is creating value in the physical Internet-of-Things world…” CNET even made a cool video of their 5 favorite use cases for Flic.

So what are you waiting for?

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Okay, how do I get one?

You can order one here and it’ll be shipped to you!

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Take control and simplify your life with the push of a button.

The First Batch – A lesson learnt about hardware and early assumptions.

This Blog post was covered in The Verge Apr 19, 2016 [link]

The very first batch of Flic we created cannot be firmware updated. Unfortunately, this means that they are not future proof and cannot be used with much of the new functionality we are providing. That sucks.

The First Batch is the most important batch

Shortcut Labs is the first company we (ok, most of us) ever ran and Flic is our first product. We are a young startup with young employees and management, without any real experience in creating connected hardware products. Even though Flic is “just a button”, creating it has been far more challenging than we could have imagined.

The crowdfunding campaign we ran for Flic became one of the most successful in the Nordics. Thousands of people supported us just the first days of the campaign, believing in the idea and believing in us to make it happen. They put their real money at stake, at high risk.

These are the people that believe in technology, who are proud to support startups and that tell their friends about it. They spread the word and people listen when they talk. They are the seeds in grass root financing.

Yet these people, the early adopters, are the ones that we and many other crowdfunding projects manage to disappoint, over and over again. This is because they are the ones who suffer most from delays and because they are the ones that will receive the first batch.

Component cost googling

When trying to launch a hardware product for the first time, you need to do early cost estimates. It starts with component cost and an estimation of the price of each component. In the later stages of the design cycle you can quote factories about volume prices and delivery times for all the finalized components required to get a far more accurate cost estimate. But way before that you may do as we did, google component costs. Try to avoid that and more importantly: don’t trust it.

We calculated the maximum acceptable cost for manufacturing Flic, knowing that we had to stay under that figure to make a viable business out of the product. We googled component prices and got a basic understanding.

Memory, as it turned out, is one of the most expensive components in our design as the component size needed to be minimal to fit our very compact PCB.

From googling we quickly understood that doubling the memory capacity doubles the price.

We knew the memory size was needed for the firmware and some space for optimizations. With that memory space, we could update all the most important parameters such as connection time intervals and power saving algorithms, while still leaving some space available for the Flic buttons to remember which phones they are allowed to connect to. But to update the entire firmware from scratch, we would need to double the memory space.

Our lead engineer was clear: if we don’t get the larger memory we can’t completely update the product.

But why would we ever need to completely refresh the firmware? The core functionality was well tested, bug-free and all optimization parameters could still be updated. The functionality is so simple, just send a single event to a known host when you get clicked! Plus, we did not anticipate, nor did we promise, that Flic would get more core functionality over time (integrations on the App side, e.g. Actions, we would still be able to update).
Doubling the memory would double that components price based on our Google research, which would add around $4 USD to the total retail price.

The technology was supposed to be future proof

Flic makes use of Bluetooth Low Energy, which is an integral part of Bluetooth 4.0. When the idea of Flic was first conceived in 2012, this technology practically only existed on paper. Two years later as we were finalizing the design, Bluetooth Low Energy was built into every new smartphone and tablet on the market.

Google Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the first OS to implement Bluetooth 4.1. Differences from Bluetooth 4.0 are minimal.

The Marshmallow release was perfectly timed with the First Batch being shipped out.

In BT 4.0 a few bits in the pairing setup were reserved for future use. These parameters were supposed to be ignored since they could end up being used in future protocol specifications. In the core Bluetooth stack implementation in the chip, a code licensed by a third party provider, these ignored bits were not parsed correctly.

They were not ignored, they were null.

While that ridiculously small difference made no impact before, it suddenly caused all pairing attempts between new Android devices and Flic to fail. We noticed this as our first batch was just sent out. We asked our backers to not upgrade to Android 6.0 until we worked out a solution.

We also asked if anyone knew someone on the Android team who could help us out. Just a couple of hours later, we were introduced to the right guy at Google (the power of our community!) who helped us out and patched Android for Flic, basically whitelisting the Bluetooth MAC range of that batch. In Android 6.0.1 and future revisions, that First Batch still works.

How could we not have noticed before, in beta versions of Android 6? Mysteriously, the MAC range used by the development boards from our chip provider was already whitelisted in Android. No one knows why.

A quick reaction

From our side, the patch to fix the error was simple and we immediately patched future versions of Flic from the factory. The First Batch was not malfunctioning thanks to our friends at Google. But we also came to think about something.

Did we ever really check the actual price of that double memory component that would allow us to update the firmware of new Flics?

Turns out a double memory size is not equal to double cost. Quite the opposite, the price difference is only marginal when quoted by professionals. We quickly bought tens of thousands of the bigger memory, sold our current stock of the smaller memory and wrote the code to be able to update Flic over the air. Just to be on the safe side, if anything like this would happen again.

Unchallenged early assumptions

The false assumption that double memory equals double price caused a lot of trouble, not only for us but for our most important customers. It was also, in retrospect, stupid of us to not believe that full software updates would be necessary when dealing with a brand new technology.

We had another unfortunate early assumption that today really affects that important Fist Batch. We “knew from the beginning” that we would not be able to start Siri on iOS with Flic. Apple did not allow that kind of functionality using the custom Bluetooth profile and App connection that we had to create to make Flic what it is.

Turns out they changed that a while ago and that Flic, with a firmware upgrade, could implement new Bluetooth profiles with a (very!) clever code switching algorithm that our brilliant engineers invented. As of our Flic App 2.0 release earlier this week, Siri and many new functionalities that we assumed would be impossible are now possible.

But not if your Flic is from the First Batch with the smaller memory chip.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed a bit of insight to our challenges. If you are part of our First Batch, please find a kind offer for new Flics in your email inbox.

Joacim