Netflix Switch lets makers start binging with a button press

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Has Netflix actually just created a ‘Netflix and chill’ button you can build for yourself?.

Netflix just introduced a prototype all-in-one device that can turn on your television, dim the lights, and fire up your Netflix queue with just the press of a button.When they aren’t stress-proofing servers and using playback data to pinpoint which episode made you binge-watch the rest of a show, Netflix engineers also like to build things.

You might go through a lot of preparation before settling in for a movie marathon or a catch-up session of Orange is the New Black, but Netflix has come up with a way to simplify things. The button, dubbed “The Switch,” makes it easier than ever to “Netflix and chill” and already has become known by that term (internet slang for hooking up in front of the TV). At the 2015 World Maker Faire this weekend, the company unveiled its prototype and instructions for a big button that it calls “The Switch.” When you hit it, The Switch dims the lights, activates your phone’s Do Not Disturb feature and gets Netflix ready for the streaming ahead.

In a nod to techy do-it-yourself culture, Netflix released step-by-step instructions on its website so people can create and customize their very own switches, linked to apps and connected devices. Usually the term is a front for couples when they want to engage in, ahem, activities, but the entertainment-streaming service has crafted a button which makes your viewing experience more relaxed. It’s a cool little DIY project that they wanted to work like the Staples Easy Button — a real one, not just one that shouts “that was easy!” when you slap it. First, you need to buy a programmable microcontroller such as the Particle Core, along with an arcade-style button, an IR transmitter, and several other components. The Switch can be set up to put on some mood lighting, silence calls on your smartphone, and even order food to power you through a Netflix NFLX -0.62% marathon — all with one press of the button.

Dimming the lights, switching your phone to silent and even ordering a takeaway is all within the button’s capabilities, as the video below illustrates. The small, internet-enabled piece of hardware is somewhat reminiscent of other branded products on the market, including Amazon’s AMZN -3.94% Dash Buttons, which allow customers to place online orders for anything from paper towels to instant coffee by pressing a button. Calling itself The Switch, the company has provided a guide to creating the button – requiring a bit of technical competence with smart lightbulbs and a microcontroller which connects to your WiFi.

The Switch, powered by a Particle Core Arduino-compatible WiFi-enabled development kit, also has a battery, LED lights, and an infrared transmitter that mimics the signal that turns on Netflix-compatible TVs. Netflix lists everything you need (including Philips’ Hue lighting system), but you’ll want to have a basic understanding of electronics, web servers and how APIs work before getting started.

This process becomes even more complicated if you don’t have a “Netflix Recommended” television, with a dedicated remote button for launching the streaming video service. Whatever your definition of “chill” may be, Netflix is encouraging people to get creative with the Switch so they can make their own customized and curated Netflix experience that much easier to attain.

For the full effect, you’ll also need a smart lighting system and other equipment, which is listed on Netflix’s website along with the source code. Who knows, it might work out when you’ve have a rough day and deliver back-to-back Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episodes to cheer you up when you get home. Why this matters: While the Netflix Switch is likely to be beyond most people’s technical grasp, it’s encouraging to see Netflix embrace the hacking community. Also on their shopping list: an IR emitter, a lithium-polymer battery that can be recharged via micro USB, a physical switch, and a snazzy-looking enclosure to house it all. If you happen to have Philips Hue bulbs and the same Netflix-ready TV that the build crew did, you can follow their instructions step-by-step to build your very own Netflix switch and minimize movie night hassle.

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