In-N-Out Boards Sans Hamburgers

board Before this project, [David]’s office had a fairly terrible system to tell everyone who was in the office, who was out, and who wasn’t coming in today. Velcro and whiteboards will do the job, but arcade buttons and LEDs called to [David], leading him to create this In/Out Status Board.

The old system consisted of a whiteboard on the side of each partition, with velcroed labels indicating if a particular person was in the office today, out, sick, or on holiday. Inconvenient to change, and there was no single place everyone could look to see if a particular person was in or not. The new system consists of a four-person pod with four arcade buttons and WS2811 LEDs, an Arduino Nano, and a 433 MHz radio. The main panel is just a bigger version of the four-person pod, keeping track of everyone in the office.

A single button switch will change a person from being in to being out, with longer presses necessary for ‘sick’ and ‘vacation’. It’s interesting to note what’s not included in this build: A fingerprint scanner was out of the question, because that would effectively eliminate anyone ever being marked as ‘sick’. An RFID tag reader was out for the same reason. Also not included is a display. That’s just fine, really – [David] won’t be changing the labels very often, anyway, and that would just add to the cost and complexity of the project.

13 thoughts on “In-N-Out Boards Sans Hamburgers

  1. It would be cool to make a physical status indicator using the status of peoples Lync’s profiles. My company uses Lync for instant messaging services and it allows the user to set their busy/away/free status.

  2. Meh, it’s still a physical board requiring you to be at the board to see someone’s status or change your own. Might as well have a butter churn and rotary dial phone. In-Out boards have long ago been migrated to the cyberspace, where you use the web/ios/android app to see everyone’s status, change your own status, input upcoming planned absences or vacation time, etc etc. You should tag this for the retro section.

    1. Yeah, lol nerds.

      A whiteboard is sooooooo complicated, while adding some soon-to-be-obsolete electronics that require instructions (long press – I mean really!) is simple.

      And then they wonder why the ‘wanker’ roles of graphic, XU & XI designers exist.

  3. I number of places use an “in out” board where you just flick the slider across.

    upgrades could include:
    capitative touch buttons (just because they appear magical)
    integration with outlook calendars (and lync as mentioned above)
    Physical awareness of who is in the building which could be active, using bluetooth or linking in to the card swipe system, dhcp server for phone/scan for mac address etc.. or more dubious by using the likes of “snoopy”

  4. >A fingerprint scanner was out of the question, because that would effectively eliminate anyone ever being marked as ‘sick’.

    On the other hand, a finger print scanner is a good way of making sure people spread their cold virus etc from touching a common surface.

  5. When designing interfaces for the general public to interact with, you need to take account not everyone has the same requirements as yourself. About 8% – 10% of men and about 0.5% women have some form of color blindness or color deficiently that will make this board much harder or perhaps even impossible to read and change. Four columns of LEDs using position to indicate status would have been much easier for everyone to read (in my opinion) and you could still have used different colored LEDs between the columns to speed up comprehension for everyone else.

    1. With all the recent articles about “not enough women in IT/Engineering/STEM/etc” the Onion should write an article about how women are being left out of color blindness. A mere 0.5% – that’s OUTRAGEOUS!

  6. Lync integration was considered, but there are a few problems with that… we have a VPN so people can work from home/wherever, all well and good if they remember to mark themselves as out of office, but they don’t. Additionally, as some of us use laptops, and the WiFi is a bit sketchy, we can be in the building but not connected to Lync, so it would be a reliable indication of Lync status but not of whether your in or not.

    Again, a network accessible app was considered, but the network here is restricted so much that having a systray or web based client would not be possible.

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