Every Friday in my household there is a ritual. All work and school stuff is tossed in the corner, to be ignored for the rest of the evening. Phones are silenced, email closed. We order pizza, drag out some bean bags, snuggle up with our dogs and watch a movie. We’re not alone here. Despite everyone’s varied lifestyles and family situations, many people find themselves in the same situation. You just want to sit, relax, eat, and watch a movie.
Well, Netflix knows this and they’ve put together a button to ease the process — a single button to dim the lights, order food, silence your phone, and boot up a movie on your TV.
The button is called “The Switch” and the best part is that Netflix has shared directions on how to make your own, complete with step-by-step directions and nice clear pictures.
The list of materials is fairly simple. The brain of their whole operation is a Particle Core, a small prototyping board that allows you to easily connect to multiple devices and networks. (Don’t fret if you can’t find the Core for sale; Particle has since replaced it with the more powerful yet cheaper Photon. You can also use other web-connected controllers for this.) You’ll have to train it how to connect to your TV via infrared signal and this project assumes that you have a television remote with a Netflix button, although there’s a workaround if not. Also keep in mind, you’ll have to have smart devices like smart light bulbs for the dimming to work.
We saw this at World Maker Faire New York and really enjoyed the concept. What stands out to us is the open and inviting nature of this project. At first glance, it may remind you of the single-button ordering device that recently came from Amazon — you push a button, a product is automatically ordered. However, this project by Netflix greatly differs as they describe how to make your own, and more importantly, how to customize it and make it do what you want. This is pretty much the opposite of the locked in, single product, nature of the Amazon button.
Of course we like this because being open with the design and construction allows people to build this to their own specific wants and needs. What if you wanted this to also ring a bell out in the workshop to beckon the makers in for movie time? You can do that. While Netflix doesn’t explicitly state so much, you could also mimic any other signal on your TV’s remote, giving you the ultimate decision on what your personal button does.