Innovation That Matters

Push notifications get physical


Customizable LED push notifications use location to make smartphones smarter

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We rely on our smartphones to alert us to information day and night. Unfiltered notifications generate a level of chatter and noise, however, that can distract and leave us less productive and feeling overwhelmed. Streamlining the information we receive is ever more important and the Internet of Things is here to help.  We have already seen an intelligent interface which uses AI to learn the recurrent patterns in how users interact with their phones to launch the right app at the right time. We have also covered an LED keyboard which provides users with a visual alert system that helps avoid death-by-notification. Now, a group of five engineers from Berkeley have created Dot, an LED button that uses enhanced location data to make smartphone notifications more intelligent and contextual.

Dot is a physical LED button that sticks to any surface and has a bluetooth proximity sensor to track users’ precise locations. The sensor communicates with the Dot app and triggers different actions as chosen by users. The system, modeled after IFFT, enables users to receive visual LED notification and it’s also smart, screening information based on a person’s context and location. This means users aren’t bombarded with unnecessary information. To take a few examples: Dot can use location-based data to light up and tell users when a delivery has been made; it can change color to remind customers about food in the fridge that is about to go bad; it can even be programmed to send reminders to another smartphone based on location, alerting a housemate to take out the trash when they are near the garbage can.

Dot’s creators are self-confessed IoT enthusiasts and have launched an open source app store to accompany the product where users can download apps created with the Dot API. The product retails at USD 20 and each Dot is shareable by multiple users. Dot is currently seeking investment on Kickstarter where it has received pledges tripling its target with 19 days left to run.


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