One of the most common things you will find in offices and tables and walls are POST IT NOTES – people would like other people to know when they are out to lunch or on a vacation or even on the bathroom [if not in a hurry]. Its a brilliant idea to put adhesive on the back of small rectangular sheets of colored paper and have information written on them – there are two things I don’t like about these little messengers 1.) the more you post the more paper needed – thus more trees needs to be cut 2.) you cant update it – unless you are planning to erase then write a new note and how are you going to do it if your out of office?
Erico Guizzo posted his answer to this question on an article at the IEEE spectrum – the solution was to use social media [Twitter] and available microcontroller hardware in unison to build an electronic POST IT that could hang in your door, could get updates from twitter and even show the current weather conditions – talk about added services. Erico used an Arduino Duemilanove an Ethernet Shield, a bunch of wires, a hole in his office wall [which he hopes his boss doesn’t find out] and a four liner LCD screen. Access to twitter is taken cared of by the Arduino and the Ethernet Shield once twitter updates are available it is then serially transmitted to the 4 x 20 character LCD. Now you can replace the old fashioned POST ITs with this eco friendly version.
One thing i really like about this is that I could update people using my phone like “Hey im outside could you please open the door, i forgot my keys”.