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Smart Home

Amazon Dash finally does more than order toilet paper

Aimed at developers, the new Amazon Web Services IoT Button is a fully programmable smart-home control point built off of Amazon Dash hardware.

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Amazon

Amazon Dash buttons made their debut last year as an almost absurdly easy way of reordering specific brand items for home delivery. Get your laundry detergent from Amazon? Just stick a Tide button up on your washer and give it a tap to re-order whenever you're running low.

Now, Amazon wants its Dash Buttons to do more -- specifically, its newest Dash Button, the AWS IoT Button. The AWS bit stands for Amazon's Web Services, while IoT is an acronym for the so-called "Internet of Things," the ever-growing landscape of cloud-connected devices and services. Put that all together, and you're looking at an Internet of Things that's powered by Amazon's cloud, with a repurposed Dash Button as the sole interface.

And that's exactly the idea. The Wi-Fi connected AWS IoT Button is fully programmable and able to trigger all sorts of things with a single press or combination of presses. Amazon pitches it as a potential control point for smart home lighting. Or a way for your AirBNB guests to check in and check out. Or a quick way to call a cab. Or a way to track medicine usage. Or...

You get the idea. It's a "Do Anything" button -- albeit one that you'll need to replace after 1,000 presses, when the irreplaceable battery runs dead.

The focus here seems to be on making it as easy as possible for developers to work with Amazon's platform -- similar to how Amazon opened up the software for Alexa, its cloud-connected virtual voice assistant. It's an approach that's born plenty of fruit for Amazon Echo and other Alexa-powered devices; time will tell if it pays off in similar fashion for Amazon's Dash buttons.

Amazon's selling the programmable button to developers with AWS accounts for $20 each, a step up from the $5 cost of a regular Amazon Dash button. Amazon calls the AWS IoT Button a "limited release," and sure enough, it's currently listed as unavailable when you try and order.

We've reached out to Amazon for comment on when the new button will be back in stock, but haven't heard back yet. We'll update this post if that changes.