The Amazon dash button and the Internet of Things shopping

After an initial period of availability only in the US and UK, the Amazon dash button this fall came to the rest of Europe and it is about to revolutionize the world of home shopping. But what is the Amazon Dash button? It is a small WiFi button that allows customers to order through a click some everyday products, such as razors, detergent, diapers, coffee, beer etc. To work, the button has to be connected to an existing Amazon account and thus allows customers to place the order without having to access each time the Amazon website or mobile app.

At the first use, the button must be configured through the Amazon app to set the type and number of the packages that we want to receive and then it is ready for use. Just the ease of using the dash button is the realization of the Internet of Things concept, a concept on which rivers of ink have been spilled by experts and futurists and which now suddenly becomes a concrete and daily practice. The connection between intelligent objects marries simplicity and goes to satisfy consumers’ daily needs, making the supply of basic necessities more comfortable.

All right, then? Not exactly. Along with its undeniable innovative charge, the Amazon Dash button brings with it a series of questions and issues hardly negligible. First of all the issue of logistics and its impact on the world of today: the online goods purchase comprises an increasing shift of objects through the country. Each click corresponds to a purchase and each purchase corresponds to a home delivery, even for a single tiny object. The implications of this immense mechanism are enormous and are of social order (the working conditions of those involved in logistics), environmental order (impact due to the traffic of vehicles and couriers) and even anthropological/cultural order.

The shopping mechanisms are frantically changing and the customer no longer goes where the goods are: now we have the goods that go to him and they do it by exploiting all the innovation channels, including the Internet of Things. It is a sea change, but it is likely to leave behind situations of injustice and to have a big environmental impact. Have we to be optimistic or pessimistic? It is too early to say. What we do know is that every great innovation takes its time to reach maturity and find a balance between opposite interests. It will be so also with these smart buttons, which someone has already begun to hack for other uses. And about one thing we are optimistic: human ingenuity always finds a way to put technology at the service of freedom and creativity, and not vice versa. It is just wait.