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Caution Optional » Blog Archive » retasked: TrafficStop - a DIY traffic signal project

imagitronics.jpg

Funny how the world works - one of my hobbies is ‘tinkering’ (DIY, hacking, everyone has a name for it but so few truly understand it) and on one of my favorite sites I came across a familiar topic - Traffic Lights. This young visionary (Tim Farley) re-tasked the traffic signal paradigm to solve an unrelated problem. Mr. Farley needed a way to stop people from interrupting him while he was already heavily involved in other work. So he developed a USB controlled traffic light (unfortunately, one of the craptastic novelty eBay units that are made in China by two year old midget slaves - I’ll try to talk him into switching to a nice vintage CHAD :-) ) that monitors the number of open applications on his Mac (a Windows version is in the works - meh) and lights up the corresponding interval on the traffic signal (err, aforementioned black plastic crappy thing).

If he’s not really busy and only has one or two applications open, then the light will shine green and all his cowworkers can feel free to approach him and make small-talk, ask to borrow his stapler, etc.. If things are picking up and he’s got a few more applications open, then the light will shine amber, indicating that he should only be disturbed if it is something important (BTW, your opinion on the Soprano’s series finale is normally not considered important). If he’s really rocking and has a bunch of applications open, it’ll shine red, indicating to that he’s ‘in the groove’ and not to be disturbed unless the building is on fire (and even then, only if the fire is close to blocking off his last exit).

An excellent idea and excecution. Although cowworks and PHBs are surprisingly adaptive to changes in their natural environments and will eventually become immune to the pretty lights (perhaps even attributing some theological symbolism to them).

You can read more about this project at HackedGadgets or Mr. Farley’s page at Imagitronics-TrafficStop. You can follow links from his Imagitronics page to his build diary and Flickr photo group.

Okay, so I’m off to grab one of those USB kits, tack on some 110V relays and start the light show. :-)

USB TrafficStop project

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