Staples Easy Button is an inexpensive toy that envisions a perfect button

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As the buttons disappear, there are few as well known as Staples’ “easy button” – a bright red Staples button that was featured in a series of ad campaigns starting in 2005. The ads were so popular that Staples ended up selling real Easy Button replicas soon after their launch – and it has sold millions of office toys since.

The Easy fictitious buttons presented in the advertisements possess magical qualities which allow the user to witchcraft their problems (usually related to office supplies) with the push of a button. The sad irony, of course, is that the actual version of the product is significantly more of a letdown. Pressing it does not invoke a printer ink rain Where raise the Great Wall to defend against an invading army. Instead, it just reads a recording of the company’s “It was easy” slogan when you press the button (clicking satisfactorily).

Outside of the metafictional context of Staples ads, however, the idea of ​​a big, magical red button you can press to fix a problem is one that resonates with the whole concept of material design. Of course, the real-world Easy Button is just a cute toy to leave on your desk or annoy your coworkers. But almost all of the hardware buttons in existence were born from the same philosophy as the more magical version of the ad: it’s a physical object designed for users to press, push, toggle, or turn in order to solve a specific problem or accomplish a task.

The Easy Button just imagines a world in which our buttons have been elevated to an even higher standard. A place where the things buttons can do or the problems they can solve aren’t limited by trivial things like electricity, programming, or the laws of physics. A problem where no problem is too big or complicated to not be solved with the push of a button.

But the Easy Button’s journey from the marketing gadget to the actual product doesn’t end with a wacky cabin accessory – because the internet has taken the original Easy Button idea and worked with it, with a number of tutorials available on how to hack the $ 9 toy. The most common hacks revolve around modifying hardware with a microphone to record your own slogans for Easy Button metal speaker with spout.

Other hacks go further, like install an Arduino microcontroller which allows the once unnecessary button to be connected to a computer or custom hardware configuration. And with that kind of hardware and a few programming chops, the sky’s the limit for what you can get your Easy Button to do, like booting up your computer, exiting a Zoom call, or even ordering additional paper from Staples.

It’s not yet quite the level of literal magic that Staples promises in its ads, but after years, the converging forces of a marketing campaign turned into a desktop toy turned into a DIY tool have come full circle: a infinitely programmable button that can, in theory, do almost anything with just a push. And really, what else could you ask for from a pimple beyond that?


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