Hands on: Proporta magic button smartphone case

Proporta's making an iPhone case with a clever, customizable magic button

Phone cases usually have one, single purpose: Protecting your phone in the event of a potentially screen-shattering fall. Proporta wants to change that with the addition of a special magic button, which will add new functionality to the humble, folio-style iPhone case. Hidden under the cover, it’ll be almost invisible, yet provide features that could come in very handy. We saw a prototype and chatted to company director Guy Monson about the potential.

The black leather folio case looks like any other at first glance, but upon closer examination there’s a noticeable circular patch in the top corner. This will disappear on the final version, leaving nothing but an LED to signify the Bluetooth status, but for now it gives away the location of the secret button. It’s a physical button too, adding tactility, which is essential if it’s to be used when the phone is in your pocket.

Here’s a scenario. You’re walking down the street in a part of town you don’t know, and you’re a little concerned about your safety. Reach into your pocket, click the button, and an emergency message will be sent to a pre-programmed number complete with a note, and a map showing your location. There’s no need to get out your phone, type the message, or open the maps app — it’s all done automatically. On a less terrifying note, the button could be used to trigger a phone call, or for other basic phone features, including controlling the music app. There are three possible functions too, defined using a single press, a long press, or a double tap.

The button itself is a slimmed down version of the Flic, a wireless smart button that can be used to control all kinds of smart devices by using the IFTTT ecosystem, so we can expect similar functionality from the button embedded in Proporta’s case. That means anything from sending out a tweet to turning on a Phillips Hue lighting system, plus compatibility with iOS and Android devices using a Bluetooth connection.

When will you be able to buy one? Monson told Digital Trends that although the magic button case — it doesn’t have an official name yet, that’s just one we made up — could realistically be ready to go in a matter of weeks, there are bigger plans afoot. Proporta produces cases for a variety of major fashion brands, including Ted Baker, and may end up releasing it under one of their names. For now, the release date is unknown, but we’ll keep you updated.

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