If you’re using Microsoft Lync today, for example for instant messaging or phone calls, you’ll know one of it’s great features is the way that you can instantly see whether other people free and busy information (something we call ‘presence’) . When you receive an email from somebody, you can easily see if they are online and free, so that you can give them a call instead of creating yet another email. Or if you see a document on your SharePoint, you see the author’s name alongside it, and a little bubble that tells you when they are available.
The little presence ‘jelly bean’ icon (the green icon beside my name on the left) shows up in email, SharePoint, Lync, Office documents – all over the place. And it changes colour – green for available; red for in the meeting or on the phone; deep-red for ‘do not disturb’.
- David and Richard are both in conference calls
- Lucy is in a meeting
- Jon’s free
And in the North Ryde office
- Andy’s offline
But seeing ‘mobile’ means that, if I’m desperate, I can also reach him by IM via Lync on his phone.
It means that I’m much more likely to quickly pick up a casual conversation with one them, using Lync for a phone call, IM chat, or even a video call.
The only challenge is that means we’re often wearing headphones or Bluetooth headsets. Which means that sometimes you don’t know if somebody’s on the phone and uninterruptible, or can be interrupted because they’re just using the headset to block out noise. And what makes it slightly more confusing is that sometimes people are using a Bluetooth headset on the phone, but I’ve not seen it and started talking to them anyway.
So when a colleague sent me an email about Busylight, it seemed like an interesting idea. Basically it takes that little ‘presence’ jelly bean status icon, and turns into something physical – a little signal light for your desk.
I mentioned it on Twitter (asking the question, “Good idea or Evil Genius"?”) and the next thing that happened was the people at kuando, who make Busylight sent me one to play with.
Now anybody walking up to my desk can see whether I’m free, or busy – either on the phone, or involved in a meeting, or simply trying to get stuff done.
It also doubles up as the phone ringer – so it trills away when I’ve got an incoming call on Lync, which is handy if the ringing is only happening through your headset, and you’re not wearing it…
Busylight - Good Idea or Evil Genius?
It’s good for open plan offices, or the kind of office where you’re always being interrupted. If you need half an hour each morning to update a record system, you can set your status to Busy, and get everybody to leave you uninterrupted – online or with a tap on the shoulder. It might also be useful as an accessibility device (eg in scenarios like the Vicdeaf Lync use)
On the Evil Genius side, I’m tempted to think that the IT techs will grab these with glee, set themselves to ‘Do Not Disturb’, and use the glowing bubble to ward off visitors like a light sabre (the USB cord’s long enough).
Find out more about Busylight
You can find out more on the Busylight website (it costs around $35)
I’m going to offer this as a competition prize on the blog, but I’m going to wait until schools are back before I run it. So keep an eye on the blog if you want to win your very own Busylight