Press Amazon Dash Button, Summon Uber

Modern life is complicated. When you want to call an Uber car to pick you up, you have to open the app, sign in and set your pickup location. [Geoffrey Tisserand] uses Uber to commute to his job in San Francisco every day, so he came up with a neat way to automate this process, by reprogramming an Amazon Dash button to call an Uber. All he has to do is to hit the button, and a few minutes later an Uber rolls up to his door.

To do this, he used the intercept method, where a Python script running on another computer notices the Amazon Dash button joining his home WiFi network and posts the request to Uber. Because Uber uses the OAuth authentication system, he was able to easily log into the system using Expressjs. And because he is always following the same route, he could also automate the posting of the pickup and dropoff locations, as they don’t change. It’s a neat hack that saves him time, but it doesn’t get around the issue of letting you know how long the car will take to arrive, or if Uber is in Surge Pricing. Perhaps that would work for version 2: a small button with an LCD screen and a warning light.

32 thoughts on “Press Amazon Dash Button, Summon Uber

  1. >>>but it doesn’t get around the issue of letting you know how long the car will take to arrive, or if Uber is in Surge Pricing.

    I suppose the same Python script could also just send notifications to his smartphone, using, for example, Pushbullet – which I’ll soon try out for similar purposes. Then there’s no need for any buttons or a display – notification like “Surge pricing is activated. Press the button once again to accept the higher rates.” will also work.

      1. It’s not about the app. It’s about pressing a button to perform one pre-defined action then getting a notification which you can see on all of your devices (mostly not even needing to unlock them), i.e. that home automation server with LCD display that’s hanging on the wall – versus unlocking your phone, launching the app, doing something with the app and so on. That’s kind of the same idea that Amazon Dash originally uses – using a convenient button to order things the moment you realise you need them, which doesn’t mean you can’t be getting delivery notifications on your phone – or anything else for that matter.

      2. if you took the time to do what he did then he has time to setup macrodroid, well then you can setup a voice notification using macrodroid , you receive your sms or whatsapp, macrodroid reads it aloud for you, no need to take your phone out of your pocket!, you just click your amazon dash, and wait for your voice messages.

    1. Tasker in Android can be scripted to wait for notifications and, if the notification matches some pattern, read the notifiction or some other message out loud. “Car in 15 minutes”, “Surge pricing. Press to confirm.” etc.

  2. Cool project. I was thinking about implementing something similar on my Echo. The ETA could be read back to you and if it’s surging Alexa could warn you (I don’t think you can actually use the API to request a car during surge last I checked)

    1. That it stupidly lazy. Get off your backside now, and start designing a system to automatically collect your pizzas and deliver them to your recliner. You really need to cut that last step to make the jump to intelligently lazy.

    2. that gives me an idea…

      use a small ARM chip and run some code that will check the various local pizza places for estimated delivery times, then use that as a weighing factor in choosing where to submit the online order to.

      you could call such a system, a ….

      … tomato-PIE!

      (thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all night. or, until the last slice is gone.)

  3. 2 ideas here… First of all, Uber ought to make these! The impulse-buy button is a fantastic money-spinner. Although I expect Amazon have patented it for just that reason.

    Second thing, somebody ought to make a more general-purpose one of these, with a little LCD and the like, as you say. You could even do a programme where sites offer the option to program it for you. Either USB or sound or whatever, HAD.com has a little “Link your Dosh button here!” button. You press it, connect your new button-thing by whatever method, and now that button buys you a HAD shirt with every press.

    Of course the tech used for programming the button uses encryption. So if HAD want an option of programming these Dosh buttons to order their shirts, they pay ME for the code to do it!

    You could well make most of the cash on the licensing code to sellers, could sell the button for peanuts.

    It’s a shame I’m lazy and lack drive, cos probably one day one of my bright ideas might make someone money.

  4. What you really need is a single push button that will call an Uber car on your phone to wherever you are using GPS to take you home when your too drunk off your ass to use your phone!

    1. Fortunately taxi operators are skilled in deciphering drunk.

      OTOH what would be handy in general, is a way of sending GPS locations across the phone while you’re having a conversation. So you could tell a taxi, or a friend giving you a lift, “I’m -beep- here, plz take me to -beep- (pre-stored home location). Just a software issue. Somebody tell Google.

      Might be best as an advanced option, hidden to start with, to avoid confusing the normies. But I can see it taking off.

        1. Yeah? I never noticed in on the Google Maps thing on my android phones. And you can send your location during a voice chat? Or even through a txt? In a way the other person can press something and get your location on their own map?

  5. Good work.
    Wouldn’t the ESP8266 be a good platform for these kind of tasks? It should be a goal to archiev the same result without an additional server or computer. Let the mc do the task. And you could even have some leds light up for additional information like pricing, etc.
    Regards
    Gerrit

  6. Do these have a child-lock or is butt-dialing not a problem with these?

    Not an issue for the original purpose; I assume you can cancel your ‘Tide’ order in time – not so easy when the Uber car is idling outside.

    1. Butt dialing = why would you keep it in your pocket? It’s got an adhesive back for a reason.
      Child lock = light application of smack therapy.

      And you always CAN cancel a taxi when it’s there. Do it too often and the company will get pissed off with you, but taxi drivers never killed anybody. Except in Taxi Driver.

  7. I see very cheap BT camera remotes for phones these days, perhaps you could use those for the same (but shorter range) purposes as the amazon button stuff. Especially since they seem to have 2 buttons, one for android and one for apple phones, meaning that even with normal use you have a button that doesn’t do anything for you.

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