If you’ve ever worked in an office with too many people and not enough bathrooms, then you know the stress of getting up to use the restroom only to find a line of people already waiting. Luckily, in most cases at least, the bathroom doesn’t have a constant line all day, just during peak usage times. To take advantage of that and ensure that the bathroom rotation is efficient, the smart people of Hirepurpose created Occu-Pi.
The purpose of Occu-Pi is simple: to give employees a way to check if the restroom is unoccupied without having to get up from their desks. The notification side of the problem was simple enough; the office already uses Slack, so a channel is just updated with the bathroom’s current status. But, determining if the bathroom is actually occupied or not was trickier to implement. Nobody wants any kind of active monitoring sensor in the bathroom with them, and something like a dedicated switch would be too easy to overlook when entering or exiting.
They eventually settled on a solution that is foolproof, privacy-conscious, and that doesn’t require any additional steps for employees. The lock on the door is a barrel bolt lock, and they were able to put a simple magnetic switch next to it. When the bolt is locked, it triggers the switch. That’s connected to a Raspberry Pi, which uses REST through an AWS Lambda function to update the Slack channel when the door is locked or unlocked. Now, all employees need to do is check that channel to see if the restroom is free.