Activating Urban Space With A Button

Buttons in public spaces are exciting. They give a sense of control in cities that are increasingly technology-driven. Particularly children seem to find it interesting to push a button, even when they’re not sure about what’s going to happen when they do it.

Launched a few weeks ago, is a neatly designed button that can be connected to the Internet in order to trigger any specific action. is based on the IFTTT protocol, which stands for If this then that. This means that a push on the button leads to one specific pre-programmed action wherever in the world. A push on the button at your desk, for instance, will send out a specific order to a local lunchroom. An older person could use the button to send an SMS alert to a relative if they’re not feeling well.

Although the makers developed with private use in mind, it could also have great potential for use in public spaces. A button like this on the streets of New York could enable passers-by to switch on the lights of a football stadium in São Paulo, or switch off commercial messages on the façade of the building in front of them.

As cities are increasingly overloaded with technology, it becomes more relevant to know who is in charge. Much of the Smart City and the Internet of Things leads to autonomous systems in which technology controls technology. The button makes this process tangible, and lets people decide whether or not they want something to happen through the simple gesture of pushing a button. can be pre-ordered for €69.