Pretty simple – and clever – project affixing a magnet to the tip of a sliding bolt to trigger a magnetic switch to trigger actions on the Pi – in this instance to alert co-workers that the bathroom is unavailable at the moment.
It’s not often that one is presented with an opportunity to innovate in the bathroom space, but just such an occasion arose earlier this year when the Hirepurpose team moved offices and our bathroom capacity was suddenly, tragically reduced by half.
Our previous office had long been plagued by unreasonably long bathroom lines. At several high-demand periods throughout the day we’d be forced to wait three, four, five people deep while complaining bitterly to each other until our turn to use the facilities arrived. With even fewer bathrooms in our new office concern about timely access was naturally high.
Believing there may be a technological solution to this problem, we decided to do what all good engineers do: find a way to make more efficient use of our limited resources. We figured that if we could find a way to better coordinate bathroom access and advertise availability we could avoid spikes in usage that make annoying lines. We needed a sensor that could determine and broadcast the bathroom’s availability.
This turned out to be not quite as straightforward as we originally thought. There is one notable wrinkle: it’s not enough to know the door is closed, you need to know if the bathroom is actually in use – that is, locked from the inside. After considering and discarding a variety of “creative” solutions (no thank you, motion sensors and facial recognition), we landed on a straightforward and reliable approach.
Each Friday is PiDay here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts, tutorials and new Raspberry Pi related products. Adafruit has the largest and best selection of Raspberry Pi accessories and all the code & tutorials to get you up and running in no time!