Make Yourself a Microsoft Teams-Compatible Status Light for Working From Home
Elio Struyf's DIY status light integrates with Microsoft Teams so that his kids know when they should stay away from his office.
If it’s possible for your job, then you’re probably working remotely right now. If that’s not something you’re used to, then you probably have to struggle to overcome some new challenges. Staying productive can be difficult, especially if there are other people at home with you. It’s hard to concentrate if you’re frequently being interrupted. Elio Struyf has been experiencing that headache now that his kids are forced to stay in the house. So he created this status light that integrates with Microsoft Teams so that his family knows when they should stay away from Struyf's office.
Microsoft Teams is collaboration software for business teams and student groups, and is quite similar to other software like Slack. One of the most important features of Microsoft Teams is the chat, which lets you talk to your colleagues. As you’d expect, you can set your status in the software to let your colleagues know if you’re currently available to chat or if you’re busy. The light that Struyf made looks at his Microsoft Teams status, and uses that to determine what color to display. A green light, for example, would tell his children that they can come in. A red light would tell them to leave him alone for the time being.
The hardware used to build the light was quite affordable. It consists of a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a Pimoroni Unicorn pHAT, a pHAT Diffuser, a simple case, an 8GB microSD card, and a micro USB cable. The Pimoroni Unicorn pHAT has an 8x4 grid of RGB LEDs that can be set to any color individually — though they’re all set to a single color in this case. The Raspberry Pi is running DietPi, which is a lightweight Debian distro. Additionally, he's running Homebridge to make it compatible with Apple’s HomeKit libraries, which is necessary for the status light to work with Microsoft Teams on a MacBook. Struyf then developed his own API to grab the status information and use it to set the color of the light.