Shop for Shortcut Labs Flic Single Purpose Smart Button

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Launched on Indiegogo in 2014, Shortcut Labs' Flic offered a novel concept: give users an app-connected button that can trigger almost anything, and they'll figure out what to do with it. The company raised nearly a million dollars.

The keys to Flic ($90 at Amazon)'s success were customization and affordability. But now, the company is introducing a new type of device that mixes up its successful recipe: Flic Single Purpose Smart Buttons.

There are currently five Single Purpose Buttons: FlicFind, FlicSelfie, FlicLights, FlicMusic, and FlicLocation. All of them exchange the original Flic's flexible interface for a single dedicated purpose. The reduced flexibility comes with a lower price tag of $20 (about £16), leaving users with an affordable entry-point into the world of smart buttons.

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Shortcut Labs

Here's what each Single Purpose Flic does:

  • FlicFind will set off an alarm on your phone when you can't find it around the house.
  • FlicSelfie will take a photo on your phone from across the room.
  • FlicLights will control your connected LEDs.
  • FlicMusic will control your Spotify playlists.
  • FlicLocation will send your GPS location to select contacts in case of emergency.

Part of the appeal of the original $34 Flic was how its flexibility allowed users to experiment. But it seems Shortcut Labs is aiming for a broader audience than experimenters or early adopters. Not only are these latest buttons available at a immediately buyable price point, but they will be sold in Best Buys around the US and Harrod's in the UK.

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The original Flic Smart Button.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The only question is, will they work well enough? Each of these devices is driven by the same basic mechanism behind the original Flic: a Bluetooth radio that connects to your phone and triggers various mobile functions, such as sending a text or playing music. Each Single Purpose Flic will trigger their basic commands using the same tap, double-tap, and long-hold actions of the original device. It was a simple and mostly effective interface.

The problem is, Flic boasted over 60 unique functions, so users could forgive an interface for being only "mostly" effective. For these Single Purpose Flics to shine, on the other hand, reliability is a must. Shortcut Labs co-founder Pranav Kosuri says the company has been focused on sharpening performance, but whether that work pays off remains to be seen.

I'm excited to get my hands on the new Single Purpose Flics. They will certainly make smart buttons more appealing to everyday people, and they might even win some converts to the more expensive original Flic. It all depends on their performance.