Getting physical aka physical buttons


There are a lot of goals where I’d love for a physical button press to add a point to the goal:

  • When I get in bed, I’d love to hit a button next to my bed to track that
  • When I wash the dishes, I’d love to hit a button next to the sink to track that
  • When I exercise, I’d love to hit a button next to my exercise gear to track that

Really, imagine any goal that you regularly do in one physical location.

Currently, I take my phone out and enter in data there, but a) that takes considerably longer, and b) it’s a massive interrupt since I almost always get distracted by something when I take out my phone. Staying away from my phone is incredibly important to me to focus for long periods of time.

Can anyone think of a cheap/effective way to pull this off now using one of the existing Beeminder data sources?

Buttons that trigger beeminder data
Saent: RescueTime + physical pomodoro button?
Not swearing in front of my toddler
Question on use of TagTime for minding nailbiting

Not sure that this qualifies as cheap, but this looks cool:

I’m sure beeminder integration could be achieved somehow with the beeminder apps.


They integrate with zapier, so that’s a homerun.


I have considered the same issue (specially for the going to bed thing) the best I have come up with is rigging some button to a Raspberry pie but since I don’t have a button or any good way to get output I haven’t gotten round to it yet.


LittleBits + IFTTT:


Another option, also IFTTT-capable:


Here’s another one:

I see they have an example of monitoring the weight on a scale to tell you when a plate of cookies are gone. @insti did something similar (though not automated, I believe) to beemind their rationing of a bunch of candy. So many cool possibilities for automatically beeminding things in the physical world!


Thanks for all the suggestions.

But, my god, are these things expensive. Flic is $30, is $50, is ~$80 (?!). I never would have thought a piece of plastic with what should be the dumbest microcontroller could get this expensive.


Oh, yeah, that will be nice when little buttons like that are a dime a dozen, which is clearly technologically possible when mass-produced.

I bet there are already ways to make this cheap. What about NFC tags that you touch your phone to without having to actually turn on your phone?


Or just wait 5 years until they come in (on?) cereal boxes.

It might also be possible to do something with a game console controller or any number of other bluetooth type doodads, depending on how much electronics you can do or how much you hate wires.

What do you have lying around?


Agreed. But it looks like spark is actually pretty fancy. And the flic supports three types of pressing. Really, is the dumb interface I want (a button that you push and that’s it) but it’s the most expensive??


I know this doesn’t get around having to use your phone, but what about using a QR code? You can set it up to send an e-mail using this site (haven’t tested the site).


Alternatively, assuming you have a spare raspberry pie lying around you can buy a cheap screen and just wire up a button (I brought this screen: which is less than half the price of any of those buttons including shipping from China). That way you can get a status from beeminder about your goals, which if any are EEPS, or whatever you wire it up to. If you are not limited by Danish import rules you can also buy a touch screen that is about 22 dollars and you don’t have to wire anything up.

In theory you can also do it with an aduino but I don’t want to try to encode json over an HTTPS connection on 4k of ram (or whatever the Aduino has).


I remembered some other reasons why I want this:

  • When I wake up, I’d love to need to hit a button somewhere very, very far from my bed – possibly somewhere that involves putting on clothes
  • When I get in to work, I’d love to need to hit a button to show I’m in at a certain time


Why a physical button? Could use geo-location, via a foursquare (swarm) checkin or the ifttt app’s built-in locator. That’s how I enter my ‘gym’ datapoints, for instance.


For geo-locations that have wifi, I have gotten better accuracy by using Tasker’s wifi SSID matching to start/stop timers when the wifi is in range. Or, you could have Tasker submit a +1 if you connect to the gym’s wifi before a certain time in the morning and 0.5 if you’re late (or whatever you want).


If you “just” need to scan a button to be honest (that is my number one or two favourite feature of Sleep as Android, no turning the alarm of and staying in bed) then grap an nfc chip or get a qr code printed and just stick it on/near the place you need to be. Sure you could go make a new qr code on your computer (if you remember what it should be called) but that is so much more annoying than just doing what you wanted to in the first place.


Well, if you already have raspberry pi, why not get a simple big red button?


IFTTT’s new Do button might fit the bill if you used a dedicated tablet. And it’s pretty useful regardless.


Another promising candidate: Signul. Not a physical button but beacons that can trigger based on microlocation, as they put it.