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Office Device Lets You Know When to Go

Computers & Mobile Technology
Office Device Lets You Know When to Go

Andy Frey writes in to announce the iPotti, developed using the Make Controller:

So, we have this issue at the office with our single-person bathrooms. We have one “m” bathroom and one “w” bathroom. We have 40+ people in the office. Many people who sit out-of-sight from the bathrooms often walk all the way across our office only to find out that someone else has beaten them to the potti.

To solve this problem, I took a Make Controller from, wired a couple of Vishay TEMT6000 ambient light sensors (photo transistors) to it, then wrote a Mac desktop app to sit in the status bar to show everyone the status of the pottis. I call it, “iPotti™” and it works awesome!

At the heart of iPotti™ is the Make Controller. It’s an Atmel Sam7 ARM microcontroller with the Make Interface Board stuck to it. The Interface Board has Ethernet, USB, power and breakout headers for the pins of the microcontroller. I wrote a slim little piece of firmware for it that simply broadcasts UDP packets with the status of the pottis. It broadcasts a packet about every couple of seconds.

At the receiving end of the iPotti™ system is a little Mac OS X app designed to sit up in the OS X status bar.

In the Maker Shed:

MakeController Kit v2.0

16 thoughts on “Office Device Lets You Know When to Go

  1. Anonymous says:

    What I don’t understand is why label the single-person bathrooms as “m” and “w”. Several local restaurants have gone with eliminating gender-specific labelling and use to their pair of single-person bathrooms and it has worked out quite well. With that experience, I don’t see the purpose of gender-specific labelling. (Plus I hate waiting outside an occupied “m” when there’s a perfectly good, empty “w” right next door.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    is there data collection?

  3. Anonymous says:

    any means for data collection? might help determine optimal times to schedule meetings

  4. Andy Frey says:

    I’ve considered putting data collection in the app so that it could tell people hour-by-hour to expect certain levels of traffic OR longer usage times. It was enough work to get the thing finished and installed. ;)

  5. Andy Frey says:

    As for the “m” and “w” designations on the door… Nobody really pays attention to those. People use whichever one is available, generally. There are more m’s than w’s here, so the w is open more often. ;)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Surprised the city code allows only two bathrooms for forty people. Even cattle is not told when to take a leak. Ah yes, technology. Now it’s going to tell you when to pee. Next stop, the bedroom?

  7. Kafrin Panda says:

    Potty is spelled with a ‘y’.

  8. jasonh says:

    you cant legally have that few bathrooms for that many people in the workplace.
    correct THAT issue, fuck THIS fix.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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