Amazon announced last week that it would be expanding its same-day grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, beyond the three west coast cities where it’s been available for the past five years. And as customers across the country prepare to start filling out their online grocery lists, the company is also offering a new wireless gadget to simplify the ordering process -- Amazon Dash.
The Dash is about as good of an example of a "service avatar" that we have seen. The WiFi enabled wand has just two buttons: one to activate a microphone, the other to activate a barcode scanner on the tip of the device (and you can't help reminiscing about the ill-fated CueCat when looking at it).
The idea is that customers will keep Dash hanging on the fridge or sitting out on the kitchen counter. When the pantry starts to run low of something -- or you get inspired by a recipe that needs exotic new ingredients -- you’ll reach for Dash and either tell it what you want, or scan the barcode of the product you’re ready to replace.
When you’re ready for the virtual checkout line, you place your order through the Fresh website or a mobile app. Within hours (or possibly the next morning), grocery totes full of your purchases will arrive at your doorstep.
It’s enough to make you nostalgic for the days of the milkman. But this is Amazon, after all, so Fresh deliveries can include much more than milk and eggs -- hundreds of thousands of Amazon.com products are also available.
On the other hand, Dash only recognizes products that are available through Fresh already. For anything else, you’ll have to keep a list the old-fashioned way. It also means the brick-and-mortar grocery store may not be ousted quite yet.
Dash is being tested in current Fresh service areas, and so far customers seem to like it. The device certainly looks simple enough for a child to use -- and you can hear one tell you all about it in the adorably-narrated video below.
Additional: Hacker News thread
Author: Ted Burnham