Amazon’s Dash Buttons were initially thought to be an April Fool’s joke since they were announced around April 1, 2015. However, they’re quite real, and since release they’ve become an easy way to re-order common household products with the touch of a button.
With a little work, Dash Buttons can actually be modified to perform a variety of tasks without ever contacting Amazon. If you’ve got some new Dash Buttons sitting around or want to spend just $5 to dip your toe into the Internet of Things, here are some of the coolest hacks we’ve found.
Note that beyond the initial setup, setting up these hacks requires a bit of programming knowledge. As a matter of scope, we won’t be going in-depth into any code. Instead, we’ll be linking to the best setups — their developers have provided instructions for replicating them on your own devices, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get going.
Getting Set Up
First, you’ll need to acquire an Amazon Dash Button, which requires an Amazon Prime subscription. You can try Prime free for 30 days to get a button without subscribing — you don’t need to keep the subscription since you won’t be buying items from Amazon.
Dash Buttons normally cost $5, though they did go on sale for $1 around Amazon Prime Day, and come in a variety of products. Feel free to browse the collection and choose your favorites — the brand on the button won’t have any effect on the hacking. If you’re ordering several buttons to perform different functions, it’s a good idea to buy ones that are different colors and thus easy to distinguish.
Once you’ve got a Dash Button, you’ll need to start setting it up like normal. Follow Amazon’s instructions to set the button up, but stop at the step where it asks you to choose your product. At this point simply close the app. Now your button can connect to your wireless network but will not order any products when pressed, which is right where we want it.
Next, you’ll need to identify the button on your network. For a guide on this, have a look at the original Dash Button hacking article, written by Ted Benson. He’s the one who initially hacked Dash Buttons to track his baby’s nighttime habits, and explains how this works in the post.
To save battery, Dash Buttons only turn on when pressed, which means they send a “hello?” signal to your network every time you push one. Using this signal, we can identify when a button is pressed and use it to send a signal to other apps and services, which is where the fun comes in.
The Best Hacks
Tracking baby data is great, but unless you have a young one, it won’t be useful for you. Here’s a collection of Amazon Dash Button hacks from around the web to get you started. If you have programming know-how, you can surely come up with a variety of other uses!
1. Order a Pizza
There are a ton of ways to order food with the internet these days. Some of the >methods from Domino’s Pizza, for example, border on ridiculous, including a smartwatch app, sending a pizza emoji in a text message, and ordering from your car. For the geeky types, they actually have a pizza-ordering API that you can utilize to your advantage with your Dash Button.
2. Track Practice Start and End Times
For some activities, you may care about both when you start and finish, such as practicing guitar with Rocksmith. Instead of manually logging your time, a Dash Button can help with this — just press it when you begin and when you’re finished. Using the below script, you can keep track of your times in a Google Sheet.
Check it out — Amazon Dash Button practice tracker
3. Control Smart Outlets and Lights
We’ve discussed the variety of gadgets that can be used with a Samsung SmartThings Hub, and how Philips Hue can make your lighting awesome. Using a couple of Amazon Dash hacks, you can interact with both using just one touch.
It’s a rainy ‘hack an Amazon Dash button to turn on the living room lights’ sort of Saturday. pic.twitter.com/hdw0IdQxQJ
— Adrian Thomas (@adrianthomas) September 17, 2016
Take it to the next level — Hack the Amazon Dash Button to control a SmartThings switch and Hack an Amazon Dash Button to control Philips Hue lights
4. Send a Text Message
Despite the usefulness of messaging apps, SMS remains a constant presence on our phones. While there are ways to send a text from a PC if you don’t have your phone, what about sending a text with a button? You can imagine the possibilities here — having one or a few canned messages ready at the touch of a button could be quite helpful.
Start sending — Send an SMS when an Amazon Dash button is pressed
5. Connect to IFTTT for Endless Possibilities
We’ve praised IFTTT extensively for its powerful ability to make nearly any web service interact with another. If none of the ideas above have suited your fancy, you’ll be able to come up with something for sure here.
Nearly any outgoing channel in IFTTT can be used here. You could set up a silent doorbell by sending a notification to your phone, send a tweet, set up a hidden emergency button that contacts someone, or call your own phone. The possibilities are only limited by how creative you can get with IFTTT.
What Will You Hack?
Of course, this is just a sampling of the best hacks you can get your Dash buttons to do. With IFTTT you’re never far away from a new opportunity — the most limiting aspect might be that the $5 price adds up! Amazon hasn’t changed the functionality of the Dash Buttons despite these discoveries, so grab a button and start tinkering.
Looking for more smart home DIY on the cheap? Check out smart home projects you can tackle in a weekend.
Which Dash Button hack is your favorite? If you’ve got one to add to the list, add it down in the comments!