Hacking the Amazon Dash Button

Amazon announced a new product today called a Dash Button. Amazon sends you a little self-stick wireless pushbutton. When you run out of a product, you just push the button and it sends a wireless signal which triggers your phone to send an order for the product.


With a little creativity, could you “re-purpose” one of these to be a wi-fi doorbell or some other kind of signaling device? A push-button wi-fi panic alarm? I’m sure it would be against the terms of service to open one up and modify it, but geeks like me wonder just what’s inside one of these little buttons.

A lot of the media are reporting that it’s a wi-fi button, but I wonder if it actually uses Bluetooth communication. Basically you press a button and the signal goes to your phone via bluebooth, and then you’re phone places an order via the Amazon app.

I wonder what it contains for a microcontroller? I expect there will be plenty more info to come once these start getting in the hands of consumers. According to their website, Amazon Prime members will be eligible receive three of them at no charge. At the moment it’s by invitation only.

What uses could you think of for a cute little wi-fi push-button transmitter?

5/11/15 Update:

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of AmateurRadio.com. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Hacking the Amazon Dash Button”

  • Tom AB5XZ:

    My bet is that it’s WiFi, not Bluetooth:
    1. House-wide networks are WiFi, with longer range than BT.
    2. Somehow it has to send a transaction via Internet, which doesn’t automatically happen with BT.
    3. It could use your phone’s BT, but would need to be paired. “Echo” pairing is very simple, and uses WiFi.

    It is cute, and it appeals to me more than an Amazon subscription.

  • Lúcio:

    If it uses BLE it doesn’t need to be paired.

  • Matt W1MST:

    So a Bluetooth Low Energy device can connect and disconnect (to a phone, for example) without ever going through the traditional Bluetooth pairing process?

    I bet the Dash Button is a BLE device. I mean, how could it possible have anything resembling a reasonable battery life if it was 802.11.

    If anyone discovers more about the technical side of this, please comment here.

  • peter kg5wy:

    Why would anyone order “TIDE” through Amazon?

  • Tom Kb3hg:

    You would be surprised at the products available, It is all about customer service. I’ll have to look into this Dash Button, at a quick glance I thought it was just software code added to a page. I’ll try to dig up information tomorrow.

  • BaronD:

    @Matt, the button does not have to be on the wifi network for more than a couple of seconds. It can turn itself off right after sending the order.

  • Chaim-Leib:

    I got one today and set it up. It’s WiFi.

    To get it to connect, I had to open up the Amazon app on my iPhone, and put in the password to my WiFi. Then it played some high-frequency sounds repeatedly from the speaker until the Dash button picked it up on its microphone (!!!) and let Amazon know that it was connected.

    I think the sounds were roughly 12-15 kHz; I can still hear up to 20 kHz with a struggle, and these sounds were quite clear to me. They probably chose these lower frequencies so that all phones can produce them loudly enough to be picked up by the Dash.

    I’m pretty impressed that they chose audio to transfer the settings. However, if this thing has a mic and internet connectivity, that means it could be used as an internet audio bug if it’s hacked…

    The device is powered by a lithium AAA battery. I’ve only seen the LED light up blue so far, but the manual says that it lights up green for successful orders and red if something went wrong. So, we’ve got an RGB LED. The processor inside apparently runs at 120 MHz, so it’s no slouch.

    If I were to hack this, I’d program the light to flash when I got important messages, using different colors for different sources. I wonder if I could blend the colors? I could use the button to tell my computer (or phone?) to open up a response.

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