If you are working in an office, big chance you are familiar with the frustrating process of booking a meeting room. No single room seems to be available according to Outlook, however you experience that some rooms are not being used or colleagues use a room without being officially booked. We thought it would be great to make this situation visible for everyone, introducing our 75” airport-style meetingroom dashboard.
Microsoft Outlook does not say anything if rooms are actually being used, because it can’t see what is happening inside a room. Because our Digital Studio is becoming a smart building we have sensor eyes installed in every room. Not only providing information about several health related KPI’s – like temperature, co2 or sound levels – but also tell us if any movement is going on. Specific occupancy sensors keep track of this and tell if there are colleagues working in a specific room.
Imagine what would be possible if we combine appointment data from Microsoft Outlook with our IoT data. This would provide rich information like “This room is booked but it is not being used” or “This room is available but some colleagues are using it without a booking!”.
Because our smart building makes use of Microsoft Azure IoT hub, integrating both data sources was not a big challenge. A specific written script receives booking data from the Outlook backend, combines it with occupancy sensor data and with some additional logic we define a detailed status at a given time. For example: meeting room Lamar is booked by @employee from 13.00 to 14.00 but it is not actively being used. This room then gets an orange colored status ‘booked not used’. In total the dashboard can display 4 different statuses:
Inspired by classic Airport style signing we decided to build a digital version, a mechanical version was considered but would definitely make too much noise in the office.
Creating the split-flap front-end – using React and Styled Components library - our first approach was to loop through the whole alphabet to select the required character– like the mechanical boards are constructed. However, we found out not only did it would take too long to select the desired letter but also it made the dashboard less appealing. The solution was to flip each character a fixed number of times which also increased the overall performance of the dashboard. With so many DOM elements involved every CSS performance optimization counts.
After some hours of intensive testing and tweaking the dashboard is now almost finalized. One thing we recently added is the name of someone who booked a room but is not using it. Making the dashboard a nice and friendly wall of shame ;)