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Amazon Dash Buttons bring one-click shopping to your kitchen, bathroom (+video)

Amazon introduced Dash Buttons, small plastic devices that order common household items to be delivered to a customer's door. Amazon is also allowing gadgets such as printers and lamps to automatically order their own refills when they sense there's a need.

Amazon has had one-click ordering on its website for ages, but now it’s bringing that function directly into your house.

On Tuesday, Amazon introduced Dash Buttons, small plastic devices with white buttons on one end and built-in Wi-Fi chips that let users reorder specific products with a single click. Mount a Dash Button somewhere in the bathroom, and the next time you’re running low on toilet paper, click the button to have more delivered to your door.

Dash Buttons will be available for 18 commonly-used products at first, including paper towels, coffee, baby food, detergent, and (of course) mac and cheese. Each individual button will order a specific product, and they can be mounted or hung near where those items are stored in a user’s house. The buttons themselves will be free, Amazon says, and their built-in batteries will last for years.

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Eventually any company will be able to offer their own Dash Button, and Amazon users can customize exactly what each one does through Amazon’s website. You could have one button that, when pressed, orders a box of 24 servings of Kraft mac and cheese, and another that orders six new Gillette razor blades. Amazon will only fill one order at a time, so your doorstep won’t be flooded with boxes if you (or your kids) press the button multiple times in a row. You’ll also receive an automatic notification on your phone every time an order is placed, giving you an opportunity to cancel the order if you didn’t mean to place it.

The Dash platform doesn’t stop at allowing customers to reorder products, however – it also allows products to keep themselves in stock. Certain devices, including Brother printers and Brita water pitchers, will be able to order new parts – such as more ink or additional water filters – automatically when they notice their supplies are running low. When a printer sees that its ink levels are running low, for example, it’ll automatically place an Amazon order for a refill to be delivered to the user’s house, without that user having to do anything at all.

Over at Wired, writer David Pierce shares how his desk lamp automatically ordered replacement bulbs when it sensed its current bulb was about to die. “When it discovered the current bulb had just 48 hours of life, it said its goodbyes, moved on, and quickly logged into Amazon and bought me another one,” Mr. Pierce writes. “This is the future according to Amazon.”

The Dash Button program is invite-only for now; Amazon Prime members can request an invitation to join the program and receive up to three Dash Buttons. Presumably, the program will open up to any Amazon Prime member who wants to use it, and Amazon will allow a customer to install as many Dash Buttons as he or she wishes. The gadgets are an expansion of Amazon’s existing Dash remote-scanning service, which allows customers to order groceries using a small Wi-Fi-enabled remote control.

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