Gadgets

Microbot Push makes dumb buttons smart

Push any mechanical button from afar, and on a schedule, with this app-controlled "robot finger."

Naran

Remember "Lost"? Specifically, remember the season-two story arc that saw John Locke pushing a button every 108 minutes, ostensibly to prevent global catastrophe?

If only he'd had a Microbot Push.

This automated, app-powered "robot finger," currently seeking funding on Indiegogo, can push nearly any mechanical button. In other words, it makes dumb buttons smart.

Consider: It could turn on your crock-pot or coffee maker at a scheduled time. Or flip a light switch. Or even open the garage door when you get home. Because it can integrate with the likes of Hue, IFTTT, WeMo and even Pebble smartwatches, the possibilities are fairly endless.

The Microbot uses adhesive foam tape to adhere just about anywhere, but can also be easily relocated, according to developer Naran. The company also says the Microbot's rechargeable battery should last for about six months on a charge.

You can operate the Microbot manually by tapping the capacitive button on the top side, or engage it from your smartphone or tablet. However, to fully realize its capabilities, you need the Prota Box -- a wireless hub that adds Wi-Fi, therefore allowing for Push control when you're outside the home. It integrates with the aforementioned services and enables the kind of automation that makes the Microbot actually useful.

Sound like something you could use? You'll have to wait awhile: the expected delivery date is April 2016. What's more, a single Microbot will cost you $39 as an early backer; adding the Prota Box brings your total to $159. There's also a $249 starter kit that includes the Prota and three Microbots.

That's pretty steep for an automated button-pusher. If you need to remotely control a light switch, why not just buy a smart switch?