For the last two years, Shortcut Labs, the Swedish company behind the Flic buttons, has seen its sales to enterprises spike. Dirk Lüders, the head of partnerships at Shortcut Labs, told me that about half of the company’s revenue now comes from business clients even though it’s never marketed to them.
These clients range from a car company that uses the button to physically open an app on a user’s phone to access the vehicle’s software features to a company called MiSentinelSOS, which provides the button to workers who work alone in the field as a safety device. I was surprised to see how well the makers of a consumer device have expanded into enterprise sales with what is basically the same product, proving that a good button is essential for the IoT.
Shortcut Labs has been building Bluetooth buttons since its founding in 2013. The first buttons connected to a phone and could be programmed in the Flic app to open the phone’s camera app, enabling the phone’s owner to take a picture with a button press. One can also use it to perform other tasks. The company added a hub that turned the Bluetooth button into a workhorse for the smart home or office.
Even with the first-generation Flic button, companies were using them to automate tasks like opening up a presentation on a dedicated computer in a conference room. Much like how I used my first button to avoid the steps associated with opening up the camera app on my phone and getting everything ready to take a picture, employees were trying to avoid the steps required to open up presentation software, then clicking through that software on a keyboard or mouse.
Generally speaking, I think that the more software eats the world, the more tactile user interfaces we need to help us manage essential features and functions. That appears to be why businesses are flocking to the Flic. To support these customers, which started coming to Shortcut Labs after playing with the Flic in their personal lives, the company has added new holders for the buttons so they can clip easily to clothing, and a custom printing deal so companies can get their logos printed on the Flic buttons.
The buttons are used in health care environments, warehouses, offices — they’re even embedded into handbags by a company called Bee & Kin. In that use case, the button is used to let the handbag’s owner play a song from their music app with the press of a button or carry out other pre-programmed tasks.
Lüders said that Shortcut Labs is now paying attention to the needs of business customers, and he’s surprised by all of the use cases that come up. Shortcut Labs works with each company to provide the appropriate integration between the business client’s software and the Flic button. For consumers, the Flic button (and the upcoming Flic Twist dial) sports dozens of pre-existing integrations to popular services such as Alexa, HomeKit, Philips Hue, Sonos, and Nanoleaf, to presets to create a fake call to help rescue you on a bad date, send a text, and more. I do wish it had a Lutron integration, but I can do most of that through Alexa.
Shortcut Labs has said it will support Matter on its upcoming new Twist dial device, and will retroactively add Matter support for its Flic Gen 2 hub after it handles everything associated with the launch of the Twist Dial in April. In that case, the Matter support will allow the hub to act as a bridge to connect to Matter devices. However, in the future I’d like to see the Matter support extend to making it easier to bring in more integrations into the buttons.
Maybe in a year or two. In the meantime, I am happy to see that Shortcut Labs has both a consumer and an enterprise revenue stream. As a button lover, I’m excited to see a company that produces them do well.
Paul Hallett says
I would love to use physical buttons to trigger routines in my Google Home but it’s still not supported! Please Google, let Flic or whomever have what they need to make this happen–I’d much rather press a button than wake my partner in the morning by speaking out loud, or having to interact with yet another screen in my life.
Thomas Markel says
Amazon did help things by discontinuing its buttons. I have two that are useless. I’d try Flic but they are way too expensive for home use. For businesses fine but for home, I am constantly checking for a replacement button for my Echo buttons.
JD Roberts says
As far as a replacement for Echo buttons, I don’t know if these meet your budget or your use case requirements, but very recently, in the last month or so, Alexa routines started accepting remotes connected to a hue bridge as triggers for Alexa routines, at least in the US. That adds a lot of options, depending on the details of your use case.
I’m using Lutron Aurora, hue dimmer, hue tap, and a friends of hue switch for this. The latter three all have multi button function, so, even though the devices are relatively expensive, the cost per function is comparable to the echo button.
My expectation is that we will see more options as matter devices come to market, but we will have to see on that one.