Monday, March 9, 2015

“Meet the bttn–the simplest internet user interface in the world”

[Update 2015-03-11 with comments from bt.tn]
..and I will do a re-test with a newer version of the hardware in the near future. So, when reading the original post, keep in mind that the bttn I had might not have been what you see today.
[Update end]

….and at €69.00, perhaps one of the worst deals you can make(?). Luckily for me I borrowed it from a colleague, so his loss.

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Basically what you have is a plastic fantastic big red button which hooks up to a WiFi network. When you hit the button it sends a signal over to bt.tn where you can configure the click to call some other service. For example a REST end-point.

The button is powered by 4xAA batteries and can easily be moved around.

Theoretically, this sounds pretty good. In practice not so much. Why? Read on!

Any button click must be preceded by a warm-up click, effectively forcing you to tap it twice to send of a command. I had to do this both using batteries or hooking it up to USB power (any why the USB power plug is inside the battery chamber beats me – very cumbersome indeed). Also the quality of the battery connectors is not to high, and I experienced the metal part falling out a couple of times when replacing the batteries.

Want to do rapid fire? No can do. You click, then wait for the lights to circle and ready the button, then you can real click. Once it turns green, you can click again.

In the promo video over at the bt.tn site everyone does single clicks, with instant action – that never happened to me. I don’t see why any click, or rapid clicks just won’t fire over the bt.tn service and over to the REST service in milliseconds . I have a USB button which does this with no issue what so ever.

Even with the configuration settings set to not wait for a callback, this takes time.

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At a recent hackathon I decided to try to use bttn as a morse device. Want to see how that turned out? Check this YouTube video.



If I ever buy a button myself I’ll be looking at different brands.

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