Netflix Switch lets makers start binging with a button press

Netflix is helping simplify your movie streaming ritual with a physical button, but only if you’re fairly comfortable with electronics and coding.

As part of the 2015 World Maker Faire last weekend (via Engadget), Netflix introduced what it calls “The Switch.” It’s basically a button that can dim the lights, order food, turn on the TV, and launch Netflix all at the same time.

Useful as this may be, it’s not something you can just buy and operate out of the box. First, you need to buy a programmable microcontroller such as the Particle Core, along with an arcade-style button, an IR transmitter, and several other components. You must also furnish your own enclosure, such as a nice block of wood with a button cut-out.

Some software assembly is also required, as you must adapt Netflix’s source code to work with your individual television and smart lighting. This process becomes even more complicated if you don’t have a “Netflix Recommended” television, with a dedicated remote button for launching the streaming video service.

In other words, there’s quite a bit of effort involved here, but it could save time in the long run by simultaneously connecting to the TV (via IR) and to connected home products (over Wi-Fi). And either way, your guests are sure to be impressed.

Why this matters: While the Netflix Switch is likely to be beyond most people’s technical grasp, it’s encouraging to see Netflix embrace the hacking community. The company has come up with some clever hacks of its own in the past—including a way to automatically pause a video when your sleep tracker detects that you’ve dozed off—but has avoided releasing them to the public. We can at least hope that the Netflix Switch is a sign of more experimentation to come.


Jared Newman

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