Office Status Light Turns “Do Not Disturb” To “Busy”

Open-plan offices with too many desks crammed into them are the scourge of many a tech start-up, and at [Danny Salzman]’s employer, distractions reached an all-time high. His boss instigated a free/busy indicator using coloured cards, but he felt he could do one better and came up with an IoT status light to do the job.

At its heart is a machinery status light of the tri-colour “traffic light” variety, driven by a set of relays under the command of a Particle Photon STM32 ARM Cortex M3 based microcontroller board. The plan to write a super-clever API and integration with Slack or Google Calendar never came together, instead it’s operated by a set of bash shell aliases.

Unfortunately for [Danny] though, it didn’t work as intended. Instead of his colleagues staying away as he had hoped, they flocked to his desk to ask about the new feature, making it not entirely useful as a “Do Not Disturb” light. Still, we like it, and it’s given us ideas about those machinery status lights.

He says he may dig it out for his home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Perhaps he could take some inspiration from this home WiFi status dongle.

16 thoughts on “Office Status Light Turns “Do Not Disturb” To “Busy”

  1. First rule of maintainig a healthy working life: coworkers are not your “friends” or “mates”. Treat them like you treat cloud servers instances (like a cattle that is). At my workplace, if any of coworkers tries to ask me anything not related to project I’m working on, I pretend I didn’t hear them. If they persist I ask them how’s that question relates to code I’m writing. That’s enough to make them leave and bother someone else.

  2. I have a ribbon of tri-color LEDs Strung around my bulletin board. It is powered through a USB port on one of my monitors.
    I usually have them slow fade through their various combinations.
    Now, through the inspiration of this article, I’ll probably have them do this “stoplight” thing.

  3. Well it’s OK but the traffic light is passe, what you really need is a robot hand, when your free the hand gives a thumbs up, when your busy the hand gives a “stop” gesture, and when you’re really, really busy (or just don’t want to talk), well you get the robofinger.

  4. We have a commercial system like that at work (Busylight, I think) .. but most of the devs I work with use macs and the image we have to use does t work with their client.
    So people with me surfaces get the do not disturb lights, but no one else does.
    I’ve started trying to mess with it in python, with mixed results. Next step is to try to get it reading my calendar etc.

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