Creating a Connected Conference Room

Timon LeDain | July 11, 2016 | 3 Min Read

Despite Shiny iPad systems at the door of conference rooms, many people fail to check in, cancel rooms they no longer need, or borrow vacant rooms without booking. To solve these challenges, we have teamed up with Built.io to automate these issues in a connected meeting room.

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced getting kicked out of a conference room, waiting for another team to leave, or overlapping meetings. Even with the allure of the shiny iPad system at the door, people forget to check in.

This posed the question, what would be better? There must be a better solution.

We think we might have solved the problem. We set out to make a connected meeting room that used colored lighting as visual cues to indicate whether it was free or not. We used Philips Hue connected light bulbs and Built.io Flow, an award-winning integration as a service that enables you to connect anything with an API with just a few clicks.

Here’s a quick look at what we did.

User experience

  • A busy indicator light that is installed outside the room (think of the red/green light you see in underground parking garages that tell you if the spot is free).
    • That light would tell someone, at a glance, if the room is available immediately.
  • A usage monitor that would use a motion sensor or ambient noise detector in the room to determine if the room is currently occupied.
    • If the room is booked, yet unoccupied, the system could automatically release the room to make it available to other people.
    • The system could attempt to contact the owner of the meeting before unbooking to give the owner a last chance to keep the room.
  • An ambient indicator in the conference room (a light) that would slowly change color when the end of the booked meeting time is approaching.
    • This indicator could give different feedback if there is something else scheduled in that room or if it is free.

Watch this demo video to see what we’re talking about:

 

Technical details

To successfully create a connected conference room, integrations are a must. We used Built.io Flow to power our connected solution because it empowered our developers to build robust and agile integrations quickly.

The connected conference room is powered by four flows that connect the indicator light, motion sensor, and microservices. The flows used leverage the pre-made activities as well as numerous developer tools available in Built.io Flow.

Flow Overview

Calendar Trigger Flow

This flow parses the meetings for each conference room and updates the status of each room and passes the information to the Light Control flow.

Light Control Flow

Once the status required has been sent, the light control flow takes over. This flow sets the inside and outside indicators to the correct states. Based on the meeting and occupancy information, the lights are scheduled to change to the correct states.

Notification Flow

In addition to the indicator light, there is an automated email reminder that is sent based on the time before or during a meeting slot. The meeting organizer is first reminded that there is a meeting if the room is not occupied within XX minutes another email is sent stating that the room is not occupied and that the room will be released in XX minutes. Once the can buffer time has passed, the meeting organizer is notified that the meeting has been cancelled and the Light Control Flow adjusts the indicators to the correct state.

Insteon Flow

This flow provides a user with the ability to schedule a meeting during a time slot if there is a conference room available during the requested time slot. If the time slot is available, the meeting is created and the data is passed to the other flows.

These four flows run asynchronously, passing only the required data to keep each meeting room updated. By separating the four main tasks, the integration is much lighter and requires much smaller instances. In addition, the smaller instances, the system is resilient and robust when there is a hardware or microservice issue.

We hope this serves as inspiration for better working spaces everywhere. Leveraging this technology is easy by yourself on Built.io, or Macadamian would be happy to assist you as well.

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