Amazon’s $5 Dash Button Already Hacked To Do Other Stuff Beyond Giving Amazon Money

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Need something to spark a bit of creativity this week? How about a super clever hack for Amazon’s $5, single-purpose Dash buttons?

The Dash buttons were originally meant to serve as a quick way to reorder household goods you order often (Order a lot of laundry detergent? Stick a Dash button on your washing machine, press it when you’re running low. Bam. Ordered.), but Cloudstitch CTO Ted Benson has found a way to make them do pretty much anything he wants.

You can read Benson’s full breakdown right over here, but here’s the gist:

  • Benson noticed that the Dash sends out a unique signal each and every time it’s pressed.
  • Rather than opening up the Dash and modifying the hardware itself (which would probably require all sorts of painful/tedious chip flashing), Benson sniffs the network for that signal. When it’s detected, he can fire a script to do just about whatever he wants. In his demo use case, he’s using it to record when his baby’s diaper gets changed into a Google Spreadsheet, while a second button records when his baby wakes from a nap.
  • To keep the Dash from ordering any products when you press it, you just… don’t configure it to order a product during the inital setup. If you never enter a SKU, it won’t have anything to order.

One catch: whereas the factory Dash can act on its own, a modified Dash will need something — a computer, generally — awake and running on your network to sniff out the button presses and respond accordingly. It complicates the equation a bit, but it’s still a fun hack.