We’re in the UK and sell printers and copiers with all the stuff that goes with them.
I’d like to have a low-cost button (similar to the Dash) I can send out to every customer. (Possibly in batches of 100 buttons at a time.) When a customer presses it I’d like to receive an email telling me which customer needs a call. I don’t think there is a cost-effective solution but thought I’d create a post to satisfy my curiosity.
I would like it to have zero configuration but that would require a cellular button, which I expect will be too expensive. That leaves us with WiFi but this will then require each customer to configure it to connect into their network.
That means having a simple interface for each customer to use to configure the device to their WiFi network. I’ve seen the way Amazon has approached this using a mic and phone, which seems like a novel idea.
I have seen expensive complete solutions but nothing for around the £5-£10 per button mark. Is there anything or am I expecting too much?
It don’t think it’s possible for 5-10 pounds unless you’re mass producing them. Even then I highly doubt it.
Considering the cheapest option at the moment is the P0 module, which is $10 per unit but cheaper in bulk, you’ll need some extra components to make it work, casing, etc etc.
It might be possible by using a ESP8266 (~$2) but then you’d need to figure out the connectivity too.
But I’m sure the guys from particle know more than I do
Thanks for your reply. I did send a sales enquiry into Particle yesterday but haven’t had a response yet. (I wasn’t able to find a phone number for them so I’ll have to be patient.)
Is there any precedence for these devices being used for this purpose? I am just surprised there isn’t already a fully working setup already built.
It will be impossible to reach that price point on the Particle platform. It’s intended for more complex scenarios involving sensors, displays and whatnot. The processor is significantly overpowered for simple button like that, and that affects the cost. It’s also would require a much larger battery than the dash button, which would also increase the size and cost. It’s just not a good fit.
Rick @ Particle
Hi Rick, thanks for your candidness.
Are you able to point me in a better direction?
Would my best option be going with the bttn solution? It seems extremely expensive and probably overkill for what we need. I love the idea of cellular buttons but €79 per button is much more than we want to spend.
@DevilLtd, do a Google search for "esp8266 internet button. That should get you going.
You chould check a sigfox module like Axem from Onsemi. There are some which you can program with simple apps to send a message froma button pressing or so.
Call me a buzz-kill for not going with the over engineered solution, but what’s wrong with slapping a sticker with a telephone number on there, and setting up an answering machine/queue?
The moment people would press that button, they’re ready to receive help, and it’s convenient at that point in time. When they have to wait for you to get the mail, and figure out a time when it suits you, it might not suit them anymore. If the intent is to respond as quickly as possible, why not just answer a phone call when they call you. When it’s not a good time, you can always directly reschedule.
That’s not mention the fact that when you do pick up the phone, the person on the other side is responsible for making the call and had a reason to do so. With an anonymous button, you’re at the risk of “calling them back” and having someone answer who knows nothing about the button press.
Seems like this setup could cause more problems than it solves
downloads for free (No Hardware) and easy to implement.
Hi Everyone, I’d like to thank everyone for their input. There seems to be quite a few options I should look into, which I will over the next couple of days.
Putting a phone number on the machine is the traditional option but I wondered if having a button would be enough of a gimmick to get customers to press it and give us their order. Stopping customers going straight onto the web is the hardest thing in our industry. We all sell for peanuts above cost so we need to retain customers rather than having to advertise for new business.
It would actually be great it there were 5 buttons in a single little box for CMYK reordering and a general help button. I’m probably overthinking this and it’s a non-starter (unless you’re Amazon).
A QR code sticker on the machine which links to your online ordering website may also be helpful. They can be serialized to include all of the location information as well… and are very cheap to print.
General Help Button here:
I just wish hacking the £5 dash button was feasible. Oh well.
@DevilLtd, had you seen these?
Dont the printers have internet? Can’t you acces them remotely and see the ink/toner status? If so, why not start a “program” that automatically supplies offices with new ink/toner/paper when it is running low Similar to the coffee machine here at work, also connected to internet so the supplier knows when to send new coffee, cleaner etc.
Have you looked at this?
Dash button dev kit:
This reminded me of what you’re trying to do with the service buttons.
This may be an option for you: