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TechWeek Europe Office Gadget Competition

A great opportunity has cropped up for Arduino fans, Raspberry Pi fans or hobby electronics enthusiasts in general.

TechWeek Europe are calling for your office gadget ideas with an easy to enter competition. All you need to do is write a blog post about a gadget that would enrich your office life or if you're not the working type, you can make up an imaginary pencil-pushing schlub whose life you want to make that little bit easier.

A valid entry must include a shoping list of all the parts you'll need from RS Components you'll need to create your gadet, although you can use parts from other resellers if you have trouble finding them there.

Once posted, you should tweet the link @TechWeekEurope with the hashtag #OfficeGadget.

Winners will get £250 worth of components and the chance to turn their invention into a reality!

Personally my office weakness is organisation, and I never seem to have a handle on what I'm supposed to be doing and when. The simple solution to this is to write things down on a piece of paper and cross them off when they're done, but writing is boring and my hand writing is abysmal to say the least.

I'd love to combine a thermal printer with a Raspberry Pi and a Ruby web interface/task aggregator. When I turn up in the morning I'd like an RFID card about my person to signifiy my arrival and trigger a little receipt-paper print out of all the tasks I need to do. The same should happen when I come back from lunch, giving me an effortlessly organised morning and afternoon.

With some sort of basic scanning mechanism it would also be possible to tick tasks off and feed the receipt paper back into a computer to be disposed of, marking tasks as it goes.

I'd similarly like this concept to apply to tweets, but this is less an office thing and more a home setup; a simple printout of tweets in the morning with checkboxes for "favourite" and "re-tweet". Adding a cross in either of these boxes and feeding them back into the scanner would trigger the appropriate action. Possible? Yes! Easy? Not really, and certainly cost-prohibitive when it comes to parts.

An expansion to the office-based system would be a Raspberry Pi camera, letting the Pi see whether or not a detected person is coming or going and act accordingly. Letting staff log phone messages and other notes against their account, for print-out when they return would be cool, too.

It's not easy to find the right components on the RS website, which isn't particularly geared toward hobbyists, but here's a punt:

  • RFID Eval Kit - Yeah, this is cheating and picking up the separate components seems to be cheaper, but I can't find a matching card and reader.
  • Panel Thermal Printer - Plug and play and ready to go. The serial probably isn't logic level compatible with the Pi, but an Arduino could stand in as a buffer.
  • Arduino Due - Overkill, but why the hell not? It's always good to leave room for improvement if you can. The Arduino should be able to handle all of the card reading/printing functinality, only invoking the Pi for the latest to-do list.
  • Raspberry Pi Model B - To run a Ruby/Sinatra/Passenger stack with a basic datamapper/sqlite backend for aggregating to-do lists and providing a place to input telephone messages and whatnot.

« Back to index Posted on 2013-05-21 by