'Netflix And Chill' Button Shows What's Wrong With IoT - InformationWeek

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9/28/2015
07:06 PM
David Wagner
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'Netflix And Chill' Button Shows What's Wrong With IoT

Netflix's slightly tongue-in-cheek invention shows that the Internet of Things is way too complicated for consumers.

8 Smart Cities: A Peek At Our Connected Future
8 Smart Cities: A Peek At Our Connected Future
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You've heard of the Staples Easy Button? Netflix has invented the lazy button. The Netflix Switch is a button that will dim your lights, turn on your TV, and automatically start your Netflix queue for you. Netflix calls it "the switch," but the Internet seems to have settled on "Netflix and Chill" Button.

It tells us a lot about the current state of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Netflix is not selling the button. It's giving you directions on how to make your own. Think of it as half Amazon Button and half viral-marketing ploy. You get to build something and tinker with electronics, which should be relatively easy for an IT professional. And then you get to connect it to an IoT environment, including whatever smart hub you have controlling your lights.

Really, by the time you're done making this thing, you deserve to binge-watch a little Orange is the New Black. Check out the video:

One of the obvious missed opportunities in the video is it suggests you order food with your phone before pushing the button. Bah! There's no reason you can't rig the button to order the food, too. We've seen pizza and coffee ordering buttons. And recently, Dominos pizza has made it possible for you to order pizza by sending an emoji. I'm pretty sure we can rig this thing to send an emoji. Netflix suggests this as an option in its instructions, but I'm saying this is a must.

Netflix and Chill simultaneously taps into what is awesome and what is silly about IoT from a consumer perspective. It is clearly poking a little fun at the Amazon Dash button that can be used for ordering detergent or toilet paper or any number of individual household supplies. On the other hand, it is also making fun of the complexity of most smart hubs these days. Setting "moods" for lighting is one thing. Smart hubs all do that. And setting enough rules to create a "Netflix and Chill" button is probably possible with some hubs if you're an expert. But Netflix is basically saying that, right now, it is easier to make your own button (using its deliberately funny and slightly vague zillion-step process) than to try to work with existing IoT tools.

(Image: Netflix)

(Image: Netflix)

In other words, the company is capitalizing nicely on the idea that we want technology to interact with us like we're people and not machines. Netflix positions itself as human-based technology company (your mileage may vary). Its analytics are aimed at our habits as watchers. IoT technology, on the other hand, tends to emphasize the data over the human. Netflix, not being born from the IoT, doesn't think that way."

Whether this sells more Netflix subscriptions or gets people to make their own buttons or not (and it probably won't), it provides some thoughtful lessons in the way IoT needs to be humanized. It needs to be interconnected, and it needs to work the way we live.

[ What else is standing in the way of IoT? Read Internet of Things: What's Holding Us Back. ]

We don't come home from work and only order a pizza or only dim the lights or only watch a movie. We come home and live a life. We need to integrate IoT into one seamless experience, rather than having buttons all over the house that control different things. It's the lack of integration (despite some efforts) that is probably holding back the IoT from a consumer perspective. What Netflix is basically saying is that the IoT's user experience is bad. And it is hard to argue that point.

What do you think? Will you make a Netflix button? Does it give you the idea for other buttons? Do you think a lack of lifestyle integration is what is holding back the IoT? Tell me in the comments section below.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 6:14:18 AM
Silly...but
Although I think this seems rather silly and unnecessary, there are some applications that could benefit from a button. I quite liked the idea of a Cortana button, as it means you don't need to have it always listening for you. Clipping it to a keyring or a car steering wheel seemed like a good idea as it's always available, without having it draining battery listening, or making it possible for the NSA or others perhaps listening too.
BrittneyB950
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BrittneyB950,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2015 | 10:33:41 AM
When old people use young phrases...
You should probably Google and understand the phrase "Netflix and Chill" before using it. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/29/2015 | 1:04:28 PM
Re: Silly...but
@whoopty- I agree with you. Buttons are important, though I think most of them should be on a device. I can see some places where the button humanizes the technology. It is tons of buttons, unintegrated buttons that don't work together I have a problem with.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 1:42:31 PM
Chicken or Egg?
OK David, I'm really confused. Just in last couple of days the radio DJ's were talking about this new dating app (like Tender) which you say what you want to do (like bowling) and then other people who want to do same thing can hook up with them. They were saying "Netflix and chill" was code word on that site for someone wanting to hook up for sex. Supposedly choosing that option opened up a chat window for parties to work out the details.

So did this site know Netflix was working on that button or is this coincidence?
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 2:13:48 PM
Re: Silly...but
It's as though no standards ever existed before and must be re-established with each new piece of hardware...
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/29/2015 | 2:16:58 PM
Re: Chicken or Egg?
@Terryb- Yes, "Netflix and Chill" is sometimes a slang for getting together and doing what people do when they are on a couch together and are attracted to each other. but it also does sometimes just mean binge watching a show, too. 

That's the reason why the internet enjoys calling the button that. Order some food, turn down the lights, turn on netflix and...chill.

But Netflix calls it "the switch." i don't know if they are aware of what Netflix and chill means to some. And I'm sure the button and the web site are a coincidence, but both are based on a general understanding of how both netflix and dating apps are used.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 7:25:49 PM
Re: Silly...but
I rather have the button made already, and then I can program it. I would rather that the instructions on . I frequently order dominos pizza online, but I have never used an emoji to order my pizza. I will definitely try it this week!
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 7:31:10 PM
Re: Silly...but
Dave, I agree. I find it frustrating to have many different devices, so I would definitely not want to have different remotes for devices with buttons for separate things. A universal button pad would suit me best. I think consolidating haven't been to one space would work better for me. I am the type of person who gets frustrated by all the different charging cord they have each of my different devices. I think that there should be a universal cord for all devices. it may seem like I'm getting off topic, but to me it's the same concept.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 7:36:24 PM
Re: Silly...but
Whoopty and Dave: Yes. I like that idea. is the buttons are in sync, it does make the experience more convenient and seamless. From this point on, I only want to buy products that are convenient, user friendly, and super easy. Other than that, it's not worth my time, energy, or money.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 8:12:08 AM
Funny little buttons
There is a certain draw to being able to hit a button to get your pizza ordered , dim your lights and put on your queued up Netflix show after a long day. (and whether Netflix and chill is a code word for more than just sinking into the couch and vegetating is up to you.) I'm not going to make a button, but I can see why some might. Eventually we will get to the point where the things we do everyday, can be facilitated a bit better by the IoT. Until then we can tinker with funny little buttons.
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