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InfoQ Homepage News Amazon's Limited-Edition Amazon Web Services Internet of Things Dash Button

Amazon's Limited-Edition Amazon Web Services Internet of Things Dash Button

Amazon announced the AWS IoT Button, a "Limited Release Programmable Dash Button" -- which immediately sold out on the first day of its availability.

The AWS IoT Button is a programmable button based on the Amazon Dash Button hardware. This simple Wi-Fi device is easy to configure and designed for developers to get started with AWS IoT, AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SNS, and many other Amazon Web Services without writing device-specific code.

The IoT button can be programmed to enact a command provided by a service provided on Amazon Web Services. Thomas Claburn, writing on, views the button as "a physical expression of the patented '1-Click' online buying button that helped Amazon become successful."

Companies that sell products that are repeatedly purchased could utilize the AWS IoT Button to enable their own customers to repurchase items simply by picking up their device and clicking the button. For example, a customer who enjoys a certain pizza could re-order the pizza by pressing the button.

To enable this feature, software has to be programmed into the button that communicates with a cloud application located on Amazon Web Services. The software embedded in the AWS IoT Button communicates with the AWS software when the user presses the button. In this sense, the AWS IoT Button is equivalent to an Internet of Things sensor: it measures when the button is pressed and sends that information to its correlated service in the cloud.

Amazon's AWS IoT SDKs include SDKs for the Raspberry Pi, the C language, and JavaScript. Specifically, AWS IoT provides:

secure, bi-directional communication between Internet-connected things (such as sensors, actuators, embedded devices, or smart appliances) and the AWS cloud. This enables you to collect telemetry data from multiple devices and store and analyze the data. You can also create applications that enable your users to control these devices from their phones or tablets.

The key components of AWS IoT are:

  • Message broker: secure communication mechanism for messaging, using MQTT for publish and subscribe, HTTP REST for publishing.
  • Rules engine: provides integration with other AWS services.
  • Thing registry: organizes resources associated with each device.
  • Thing Shadows service: provides representations of devices in the AWS cloud.
  • Thing shadow: a JSON document used to store and retrieve current state information for a thing (device, app, etc.)
  • Device gateway: enables secure and efficient communication with AWS IoT.
  • Security and identity service: provides shared responsibility for security, via credentials.

Claburn reports a limitation in the IoT Button, yet notes the interest it has inspired:

the IoT Button battery will last about 1,000 presses. That works out to about two cents a press -- to say nothing about the waste created by non-reusable electronics. For those interested in hacking, there are more economical, environmentally responsible options for triggering cloud services from a device.

Nonetheless, there appear to be plenty of developers interested in using AWS to mediate their IoT Buttons' requests. The limited-release Amazon IoT Button was sold out on May 13, a day after its debut.

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