7 simple smart home use cases using the smart button Flic

Flic is a small, wireless button, which connects via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to iOS or Android devices. We have been thinking about use cases and would like to share some of them.

During the last months we have been developing our own smart home gadgets and especially during our Gadget Weeks @ ICT-WG  we have tried out many existing solutions. When it comes to shaping the flat of the future, the Swisscom ICT-flat has one big advantage compared to other developers, innovators or testers. We live here and use all smart home gadget in our daily life. Thus, it soon becomes clear whether a gadget brings added value or is useless regarding comfort, security or energy efficiency. A gadget that belongs to the first category is Flic.

Flic is a small, wireless button, which connects via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to iOS or Android devices and for several weeks also to Raspberry Pi’s or MacBook’s. An action can be triggered by clicking, double clicking or holding the former Indiegogo product. This implicates that it is possible to determine 3 actions/use cases per button. The possibilities are countless since Flic can be connected to popular smart home devices like Philips Hue bulbs or Sonos loudspeakers and as well to IFTTT.

One typical pain point in smart homes (at least nowadays) is that you need your smartphone to control almost all smart devices. There is a golden rule for webpages that says users need to find the desired content in not more than 3 clicks. Triggering an action on our various smartphones app (e.g. OpenHAB, Sonos or Philips Hue) need usually far more than 3 clicks. That’s the reason why we had the idea to use buttons for recurring tasks. Thus, we don’t need to pick up our smartphones and save time. Firstly, we have been looking for WLAN buttons and found bttn. Unfortunately, the power consumption of WLAN is compared to BLE very high, which results in a bigger (because of the battery) and more expensive button. Therefore, we bought 4 Flic buttons and run the app on an iPad.

Creating recipes with the Flic button app is a piece of cake. Before that, we bound our existing hardware (Philips Hue & Sonos) to the Flic app. For using the Swiss smart energy control switch myStrom it was I a little bit more complicated.  Firstly, one has to login to IFTTT and connect the myStrom Channel. Secondly, one has to create a recipe (e.g. if Flic is triggered, toggle the smart home plug myStrom). Thirdly, the created recipe has to be activated within the Flic app. The following 7 recipes have proved themselves as useful or at least fun:

  1. Party mode
    After pressing the Flic button all our Philips Hue light bulbs (except the ones in our private rooms) switch on in a random color and the music on our Sonos starts to play simultaneously.
  1. Food is ready
    After clicking the button, the roommates get a notification (Slack & email) that lunch is ready. We don’t have to shout anymore.
  1. Play music
    Our Sonos loudspeaker in the kitchen is mounted on the heating and we can’t push the play button easily. By pushing the Flic button next to the hob, we play/pause our favorite music.
  1. Snooze
    This recipe is a combination of snoozing and playing music. When the alarm clock rings we snooze it 7 more minutes and play music on the Sonos simultaneously by clicking on the Flic button.
  1. Fan
    With myStrom it is possible to switch on and off every device by pressing a Flic button. One example is an old fan that can be controlled by a Flic button.
  1. Shutdown
    Unsurprisingly, our power consumption compared to other flats is very high. Certainly, there is room for improvement and smart home technologies could also be the solution. For the moment, we have one button that switches off all light bulbs, pauses the music and the through myStrom connected printer as well.
  1. Additional light switch
    This is a very boring but still useful recipe because of we only have one light switch in our personal rooms.

Do you have other ideas using Flic?