AT&T, AWS Launch Self-Connected Easy Button for Routine Tasks

IoT news: AT&T launches the LTE-M Button powered by Amazon Web Services, which offers customers one-click service that is expected to save time and money for scores of users.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Most of us are aware of Staples’ big red easy button from myriad television and web commercials. Well, AT&T, with the big help of Amazon Web Services, is launching its own take on that concept, only it’s literal--and it’s not red.

The mega-telecom on May 16 launched a new service using what it calls the AT&T LTE-M Button, which offers a one-click independent connection to AT&T’s nationwide LTE-M network. This is a physical device to carry in your pocket.

LTE-M is the abbreviation for LTE Cat-M1 or Long Term Evolution, category M1. This technology enables internet of things devices to connect directly to a 4G network without a gateway and on batteries. LTE is the generic term for 4G networks.

While it is designed for large-scale IoT solutions, the LTE-M Button also can be used to obtain an automatic connection for remote or smaller deployments.

Doesn't Need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

AT&T describes the Button as an out-of-the-box device that doesn’t need a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection and helps to streamline mundane and repetitive workplace tasks with one click, Shiraz Hasan, Vice President of AT&T Internet of Things Solutions,wrote in a blogpost.

Here are some projected use cases:

  • Immediate or on-demand delivery for tools and supplies that can be placed from a remote job site;
  • Instant customer service and feedback that can be used at sports venues, airports, hotels;
  • Enabling services that require timed billing more precisely track their time invested, i.e., legal teams who need to document when they started and stopped working on a case;
  • Mobile suppliers on the go can place orders from wherever they are;
  • Products delivered to your front door;
  • Get automatic alerts from buttons attached to connected trash cans or oil storage containers when it’s time for a pickup; and
  • The button can be a virtual concierge for seniors to check in with caregivers on health status and call for medication--all from their own home.

It offers many possibilities for businesses to save time, money and improve customer convenience and satisfaction through the Internet of Things, AWS spokesman Jeff Barr wrote in a blogpost.

"We announced a preview of AWS IoT 1-Click at AWS re:Invent 2017 and have been refining it ever since, focusing on simplicity and a clean out-of-box experience,” Barr said.

Here’s what that means for developers and enterprise IT managers, Barr said:

  • Architects can dream up applications for inexpensive, low-powered devices.
  • Developers don’t need to write any device-level code. They can make use of pre-built actions, which send email or SMS messages, or write their own custom actions using AWS Lambda functions.
  • Installers don’t have to install certificates or configure cloud endpoints on newly acquired devices, and don’t have to worry about firmware updates.
  • Administrators can monitor the overall status and health of each device, and can arrange to receive alerts when a device nears the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced, using a single interface that spans device types and manufacturers.

AT&T and AWS are launching these devices with support for two types of buttons (one pictured). Both types of buttons are pre-configured with X.509 certificates, communicate to the cloud over secure connections and are ready to use, Barr said.

  • The AWS IoT Enterprise Button communicates via Wi-Fi. It has a 2,000-click lifetime, encrypts outbound data using Transport Layer Security (TLS), and can be configured using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and AWS’s mobile app. It retails for $19.99 (shipping and handling not included) and can be used in the United States, Europe and Japan.
  • The AT&T LTE-M Button communicates via the LTE-M cellular network. It has a 1500-click lifetime, and also encrypts outbound data using TLS. The device and the bundled data plan is available an an introductory price of $29.99 (shipping and handling not included), and can be used in the United States.

For more detailed information and a list the current set of devices that are supported by AWS IoT 1-Click, go here.

To order the device, go to the IoT Marketplace.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...