Amazon’s Dash Wand Not Quite Magical Yet

Amazon has released a wand, though it’s far from an essential right now. The Dash Wand is effectively a version of the existing Dash button with a built-in barcode reader.

The Dash buttons are simply Wi-Fi connected buttons that perform a specific action when pressed. In the case of most of the buttons available right now, that means re-ordering a particular household product from Amazon (with a daily limit to reduce and mitigate the risk of mistaken orders) rather than have to remember to get it from a store next time you shop.

Most of the interesting uses of the system have come from modifications, either home hackers trying to find useful ways to exploit the button and internet connection, or white goods manufacturers exploring the idea of, for example, a washing machine that automatically re-orders laundry detergent when it calculates it has used most of a carton.

The Dash Wand adds a barcode reader and a slimmed-down version of the Alexa Assistant with reduced functionality. Those added tools mean it’s a little bulkier as it uses two AA batteries. The gadget is magnetic, most likely to make it easy to keep on a fridge door.

The concept is that once the device is set-up, you can scan a barcode on anything to add it (or the closest alternative that’s available) to your Amazon shopping cart. You’ll still need to visit the Amazon website or app to confirm the cart contents and place the order.

You can also use Alexa by pressing the button rather than speaking, though the Dash Wand doesn’t support any functions such as playing music or using reminders that require the device to be switched on continuously rather than resolved instantly. As with other Alexa gadgets, you can speak the name of a product to buy it.

The gadget costs $20 and includes a three-month free trial of Amazon Fresh grocery ordering if available in your area. If you’re a Prime customer you get $20 credit, offsetting the purchase price of the Dash Wand.