Buttons are that most basic of user interfaces and are found on just about every machine or electronic device going around. Now, thanks to wireless technology, standalone buttons designed to perform different functions are becoming a thing. One such example is Droplet, a button that can be stuck to just about anything and be pressed to trigger a message of register that an activity has been carried out.
We've seen a number of similar devices released recently. Last month, for example, Amazon announced its Dash Button, which automatically places an order for household items when pressed. The Flic and Bttn, meanwhile, are physical buttons to which users can assign any number of actions by acting as an IFTTT (If This Then That) trigger.
Like these devices, the Droplet takes the form of a self-contained button and it can be used as a custom trigger like the Flic or Bttn, but its main intended application is to "remind, track and get things done." Reminder and tracking apps are all well and good, but it can still be easy to forget or ignore them. Droplet is aimed at bringing reminders and activity tracking into the physical world.
There are three parts to the Droplet: the button, the smartphone app and the hub. The button measures just 26 x 21 x 7 mm (1 x 0.8 x 0.3 in) and can be attached to items using its adhesive rear. It connects to the app and/or the hub via Bluetooth Low Energy. With the app, users can then set up what they want the button to do.
It might, for example, be used for reminders to take medication, feed the fish or take out the trash. With the button placed in proximity to where the task is carried out, it can be easily pressed once the task is complete. If the user forgets about the task and as a result doesn't press the button, a reminder notification can be sent in the form of an email, text, push notification, or phone call reminder.
Alternatively, it can be used to track activities. It could, for example, be placed on the coffee tin to monitor how many cups of coffee a day a user is drinking, or kept with exercise gear to keep tabs on how often a user is going for a jog.
As mentioned earlier, the Droplet can also be set up to trigger custom actions. IFTTT integration will allow the button to be used for things like reordering household goods (like the Amazon Dash Button), tracking time spent on activities and sending preset messages.
The Droplet button can communicate directly with the smartphone app, but what if a user moves out of range, their phone's battery is flat or they want to use a button in a remote location? This is where the hub comes in. The hub, which plugs directly into the wall electrical outlet, can communicate with both the button (via Bluetooth Low Energy) and the Droplet servers (via Wi-Fi) within a range of and has a range of around 100 ft (30 m), ensuring that no button press goes unnoticed. The hub can also manage all Droplets within range.
Each Droplet button is said to last more than a year before the battery runs out. They cannot be recharged or replaced by the user, but a replacement program is being created that would allow users to return their Droplet to the company for battery replacement. The team says they currently have an iOS app working and plan to have an Android version up and running by the time of the first hardware shipment.
A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is underway for the production of Droplet. At the time of writing, individuals who pledge from US$19 can receive a single Droplet button and those who pledge from $39 can receive a Droplet button and hub, assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and roll-out. Shipping is expected to begin from December 2015.
The Kickstarter video pitch for Droplet can be viewed below.
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