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Pressy Physical Button Makes Your Smartphones Smarter
Posted August 31, 2013
Pressy Physical Button Makes Your Smartphones Smarter
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By Barry Levine. Updated August 31, 2013 8:51AM

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Ever wanted to just skip your phone's soft menus and physically click something to do the thing you want to do? If so, a new company is making the button you're looking for.

The company, called Pressy, is offering what it calls "the Almighty Android Button," a pressable device that plugs into the headphone jack, jutting just .07 millimeter above the surface. Pressing the button sends signals to an app, which then performs a preset action. Pressing the button in the right pattern can, for instance, result in the smartphone taking a photo and sending it to the desired social network, starting a voice recording, sending your location in the event of an emergency, checking into Facebook, or other actions.

Adding an Action

The button is configured so that different actions are implemented following different rhythms or durations of your click. For instance, two long presses could dial your spouse, or three short clicks could open your calendar. An API allows third-party developers to extend the functionality of the hardware.

The app will come with three preset actions, but users can customize clicking behavior and set up their own lists of actions. The provided actions are a short click to toggle the flashlight on or off, a long click to toggle a phone in or out of silent mode, and a double-click to take a photo. To add an action, a user clicks the plus sign in the Pressy app, selects the action type, customizes the click length and sequence, and then customizes the action.

If a user wants to use the headphone jack, the device is inserted into a special keyring designed for Pressy, and the headphone button can be clicked to create the actions.

The Pressy app, once launched, activates a background service that monitors the headset jack for button presses. The application itself is only activated when the Pressy is clicked, so as not to drain the battery. The app is designed for all Android devices running version 2.3 or later.

$200k in 48 Hours

The device is a workaround for the cascades of actions currently required for many smartphone actions. As the Pressy developers note, if you want to turn on your flashlight the regular way, you need to wake your screen, unlock it, exit your current running app, search for the app to use, launch it, and then perform the action. Not a good user experience if the electricity in your home suddenly goes out at night.

The planned device is featured on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter, and has raised more than $200,000 in 48 hours from more than 9,000 backers. Its goal was $40,000. The first 300 supporters received a promise of a black Pressy button, and $20 gets you the same thing in either white, red, or blue. For $45, contributors can become the proud owners of a gold-colored model. Delivery is expected by March of next year.

The developers said on Kickstarter they have built "many working models and prototypes," using 3D printing and manual assembly, and are ready to begin manufacture.

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