A Smart Office Monitoring System

A little teaser for a relayr project currently in the works, for all of you out there who love coffee and just hate wasting time.


Picture this: You wake up dizzy and tired following a rough night. You realize that you actually went through your last bit of coffee the day before and it’s -2 degrees outside and raining... So you skip your morning wake me up cup and you eventually make it to the office. Late, wet, and cranky. You think to yourself, 'It’s time to get a well deserved coffee'. But while heading to the kitchen you see a bunch of colleagues already waiting in line for their cup...



Coffee line at the office



So you go back to your desk. 10 minutes later, the kitchen is still full of eager-to-get-their-coffee colleagues. Same story 20 minutes later.


After several tries, you give up. Your crankiness levels have hit the roof and you realize that this is just not your day.


Coffee queue prototype mounted on the wall


Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could trade frustration for insight?

Wouldn’t it be great to know upfront when the coffee machine is available?


components for building a queue counter


Luckily, Nico, Timo and Richard, members of our engineering support team, have taken it upon themselves to solve this existential problem, by building an Office Monitoring System. The ultimate project for the control freak in us.

Aside from displaying a multitude of real time data via an online dashboard, such as the temperature of each room, the noise level (shhhh!), the status of every window (did you leave one open?), weather, light (is it really necessary to turn the lights on?), and more, it can also detect the number of people waiting in line for coffee.


Dashboard showing queue data


Now that’s what we call vital information! ;)


The entire system is based on the relayr Cloud, of course. So all of us here at relayr, can check this dashboard from anywhere in the office (or the world for that matter) without having to ever leave our seats!


WunderBar sensor being built into the counter prototype


As you can see in the pictures, the hardware assembly couldn’t be more simple: A Particle Photon, two infrared proximity sensors from Seeed Studio, a breadboard and a few cables. Put together, with the help of some Fischertechnik parts.


Coffee queue prototype coming together


The working principle is also quite simple. The Photon reads the status of both sensors and interprets the results. To put it roughly: when one of the sensors is triggered, the microcontroller waits until the other sensor is triggered as well, so it can detect the direction of the coffee-craving colleague. If that person goes towards the coffee machine, it adds 1 to the count. Otherwise, it subtracts 1.


Waiting for the office coffee  machine to be free.


The number of colleagues in queue is sent to the relayr Cloud, which in turn shares the value with the office monitoring system. With the help of a dedicated dashboard, everyone at the office can check if the coffee machine is available, or if there’s still a long queue of colleagues waiting!


Finally, the end to cranky mornings.


The code for this amazing project will be published the moment we’re done working on it - so stay tuned!