Have you heard of Flic?
The Swedish tech firm might not be the first name that
springs to mind when you think of home automation. As we edge toward 2020,
though, this Indiegogo start-up success story is changing the way we control our
It’s easy to assume that home automation peaked with voice control, but if you think back only five years, there were no smart speakers and no digital assistants. While billions delightedly use voice control, it’s simply not everyone’s preferred option.
This is where Flic plugs a hole in the market with their smart buttons.
Today, we’ll give you a snapshot overview of their fledgling line-up, including a new and retooled smart button along with a hub.
First, how did Flic spring into being?
Indiegogo Success Story
Made by Shortcut Labs, Flic is a wireless smart button
offering physical shortcuts to the digital functions you perform on your mobile
Founded in early 2013, Scandinavian firm Flic is now
fittingly based out of San Francisco.
The original Bluetooth button which we’ll highlight first crushed its $80,000 target on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. With over $1 million raised in just two months in 2014, the original smart button created its own sub-niche. So what’s this button all about?
Wireless Smart Button
The wireless smart button is a small silicon disc with a reusable sticky pad on the rear. A clip allows you to attach it to clothing or bags, too.
The button runs on a regular coin-cell battery that is capable of yielding 18 months of runtime.
Its core purpose is to enable you to control hundreds of services and apps with a single click. In effect, it steps in for many use cases where you’d typically use your smartphone for control.
Driving Flic is a responsive app available for both Android
and iOS. Set-up couldn’t be much easier. Activate Bluetooth on your device and,
with a single click, the device should pick up the smart button.
Each smart button has three distinct actions:
- Single click
- Double click
- Click and hold
You get the chance to customize the actions of each from a set of options. You’ll be able to choose one action or a series of actions. The latter makes sequencing devices a breeze. These actions are called Flics, and you can edit or delete them at any stage.
You’ll also get a Tasks menu to help with task management. These can be tweaked to appear in your notifications.
On a basic level, you can use this smart button to perform simple smartphone functions, like setting and snoozing your alarm or firing off a photo.
Specific functions vary with location but range from ordering an Uber to smart light management. Also, there’s even a partnership with Volvo permitting control of several functions in your car. Forging meaningful partnerships is where Flic continues to surge from strength to strength.
Flic works strongly with IFTTT. You can easily apply a broad spread of pre-programmed sequences facilitating smart home control at the push of a button. Within the Flic hub on IFTTT, you’ll have a range of functionality that doesn’t appear in the native app. This allows you to explore and get creative.
- Straightforward installation
- A refreshing change to control in-app or using voice commands
- Uses Bluetooth LE with an impressive 150-foot range
Flic 2: The
If you prefer to road test the most recent iteration, Flic 2 is already nudging $750,000 from its Kickstarter campaign. Release date is on the calendar for September 2019.
As you’d expect from an innovative tech firm, there are a
few worthwhile upgrades over the original including:
- Triple the battery life
- Extended range
- Colored LEDs
- Open platform
- Native HID and MIDI
- Enhanced multi-app support
You’ll get the same underpinning simplicity that caused the original Flic to fly off the shelves. You can now control thousands of apps and services with no need for a virtual butler and without touching your smartphone. Whether you want to play music, set your alarm, tweak your lighting, or even give a keynote speech, use cases are surprisingly diverse.
Functionality is identical to the original button. So, from adjusting climate control to sending messages from your car with a single click, this indoor and outdoor smart button just got even smarter.
- Streamlines simple home automation tasks
- Reduces the clutter in device-laden homes
- Expanding use cases and a glimmering future
Flic is highly responsive to user feedback, and one of the major gripes with the buttons highlighted above is the fact you need your phone close by.
Often, after a hard day at work seemingly welded to your cell, when you come home, you just want to throw it aside and go phone-free. Well, with Flic Hub, you can do just that while still getting the most from your Flic buttons.
Instead of relying on the intelligence of your phone, buttons can now communicate directly with the hub, which eliminates the middleman.
A scaled-down white box, you’ll get an Ethernet port to supplement the WiFi connection, a micro USB for power, an audio port and an onboard IR blaster as standard.
Inside The Bundle
Once you’ve hooked up your hub, the app shows a pair of tabs
permitting both traditional phone-based control or direct access.
The bundle also includes 3 Flic buttons to get you started.
You’ll be able to add up to 63 buttons to the hub, ideal for even sprawling
smart homes with multiple occupants.
Using buttons with the hub reduces your options slightly. For a start, you won’t be able to control your phone. On the plus side, you’ll enjoy far more robust integrations with Philips Hue and LIFX support along with several other major players. IFTTT comes fully integrated, too.
The range is impressive, and you should enjoy control throughout a large house without dead spots or reliability issues.
For a unique and eminently flexible way of controlling a
huge selection of devices, Flic Hub has taken a winning team and given it an
extra shot of brilliance.
- Buttons now work for everyone in the house without smartphones in the equation
- IR blaster is a wonderful extra
- Improved smart device support at a price you’ll love
Flic is not currently a perfect solution. Since it harnesses Bluetooth, you’ll still need to have your phone within range. In the newer generation, hardware and software issues have been ironed out, and the hub adds more robust functionality.
As with much of the most pioneering smart tech, it’s
exciting to imagine how Flic will evolve from here. With smart speakers
reaching saturation point and at least some backlash against voice control,
maybe it’s time for a new paradigm. And maybe Flic will be at the vanguard of
this new system of smart home control.