It’s easy to assume we’ve reached the summit of the way we interact with our tech. We’ve gone from simple switches, through to smart phones, then to voice assistants – as evolutionary journeys go, it would seem this journey has reached its peak.
But all is not as it seems. Voice is incredible and thanks to Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri it’s now used by billions of people. It’s incredible, but it’s not perfect. It can’t do everything, there’s a definite margin for error, and sometimes it’s quite simply not appropriate to use voice-activated controls.
It’s here the smart button comes in. At CES 2019, Google introduced a preview of its Google Assistant Connect platform. This platform is designed to make it easier for companies to integrate their products with Google Assistant and takes much of the heavy lifting away from the company and places it within the Assistant app.
One of the devices Google previewed was a smart button which can be used to simplify complex tasks or perform your favourite Assistant routine. If it’s good enough for Google, it’s good enough for us!
We’ve always viewed smart buttons as the next iteration in how we interact with tech and we expect this to flourish in 2019. The best smart buttons open up a world of possibilities while retaining the very quality that made them so attractive in the first place – their simplicity.
Picture the scene… you’re fast asleep, your mind’s drifting through different dreams. Then the alarm sounds, jolting you awake. You don’t want to wake the rest of the household so you don’t say ‘Ok Google, start my morning routine.’ Instead, you reach for a button and press it without opening your eyes.
The alarm stops. Your lights turn on to the ‘wake up’ scene you’ve set for them. Your morning playlist starts through your wireless speaker, the thermostat kicks in to heat up your home, your coffee machine starts, a note is automatically made in your calendar for when you woke up, and you’ve messaged the office to tell them you’ll be there in an hour.
All with the push of a button.
This isn’t science fiction. This is right now. And it all happens because of a single click. This could potentially be done with voice but who wants to be saying: “Hey Google, start my morning routine” as soon as they open their eyes?
Here’s three ways buttons are changing the way we interact with our technology and, by extension, the world around us:
- Convenience. A smart button like Flic has three ways to use it. You push it once, you push it twice, or you hold it down. These three commands can then trigger whatever actions you want them to do. It’s simple and it’s convenient. You don’t have to ask a voice assistant to do it for you and you don’t have to scroll through your phone to find the right app to perform the action you want. When it comes to smart home control, this is absolutely crucial and it’s here smart buttons are a true game changer. We are creatures of convenience and smart buttons help us streamline processes in an easy and effective way.
- Subtlety. Pushing a button can be a very discreet action. If it’s in your pocket, no one will ever even know you’ve pressed it. Say you’re having a bad date you want to get out of it in a polite way, you can’t then turn round and say ‘Siri, make a fake phone call to my phone.’ With a button you can. One press and your phone starts ringing with the emergency call to help you escape. On a slightly more practical level, try saying ‘Hey Google’ in a meeting room full of Android users and see what happens. Buttons can even be used to activate your voice assistant, taking out the need for unnecessary commands.
- Chain reactions. The beauty of buttons is the ability to create chain reactions which trigger a number of actions at once. Rushing out of home in the morning? Simultaneously turn off all your lights, your heating or air con, open the garage door, close your window shades and arm your security system. Getting ready to go to bed? Then turn on your electric blanket, dim the lights, lock the doors, set your alarm and start tracking your sleep. With integrations with services like IFTTT and Zapier, there are countless possibilities to explore.
Buttons are the next step in the way we interact with tech. Like the best technology, they are built to enhance our lives, make complicated tasks simple, and to be a joy to use.
So go grab your own buttons and start making your life easier.