In the ever-expanding, comlex, cacophonous forum that the post-social media Internet has become, product and interface design have become increasingly minimalist. The focus on user experience—or ‘easitude,' as I call it—is exponentially compressing our devices into their simplest possible form. The trend toward minimal design is barreling toward one logical conclusion: a single big red button that can control anything on the web with a single click.
Well, that conclusion is here, and bares the appropriately minimalist moniker, bttn. For a device that more or less consists of a button and an Internet connection, bttn has a surprising amount of potential to affect the lives of its users and simultaneously spark change in the rat race of device design. Harri Koskinen—designer of the block lamp that sits in the MOMA—is spearheading bttn’s design, ensuring that the maxim of form and function is rigorously upheld. The bttn itself is a simple, easy to use trigger, but the real power and function lies in the bttn servers.
The servers store the pre-set commands, which range from, “Text Mom ‘I’m on my way’,” to the simple-yet-complex functions concocted on “If This Then That”. Bttn can respond to location, changing from one function in the car, to another at the door, and a third in the bedroom.
With the ability to connect to the Internet either through Wi-Fi or a cheap mobile data plan, it seems like the thing can go pretty much anywhere. We’re imagining everything from hikers in the Adirondacks arranging meeting times, to the Red Cross organizing supply drops (possibly even via drone). But we’re not the only ones who have ideas about how bttn might be used and abused—Twitter has been brainstorming its first thoughts about how the device might make their lives easier:
bt.tn! Arrive at Office > push #mybttn > lights, coffee machine & iMac turns on.. oh, and iTunes starts Tom Jones "What's up pussycat"! :D— Mr.Madsen (@MrMadsen) May 28, 2014
#mybttn would be paired to speakers that play "We are the Champions" in order to more effectively celebrate small victories in the office.— Binary Ghost (meat) (@legittalon) June 2, 2014
bttn has a lot of potential to change the way people use the Internet. It makes technology more accessible to children and Digital Immigrants. It can be used as a dead man’s switch to ensure pills are taken and appointments are kept. But can it compete with concepts like Wearables, which offer a way to integrate tech activity into our very being? It seems design is at a crossroads, depending on whether human-tech interaction is completely concentrated, as with devices like bttn, or dispersed, as with Wearables. It won’t be easy, but whatever direction human whim and the free market go, it’s never been easier to be a part of the world wide web.
For information on bttn, visit the project's website here: http://bt.tn/