Preston Richey


In 2016, Barkley underwent major renovations on the 4th floor of the old TWA headquarters it calls home. The space, formerly consisting mostly of client-specific ‘war-rooms’, was opened up as a collaboration space for all partners. It included an expanded company kitchen and lunch area, as well as two ‘zen rooms’, light- and sound-proof rooms no more than 6 feet on a side, for partners to use for work, sleep, or (ostensibly) meditation.

Zen Room Doors

The rooms were great in practice, but there was a glaring problem: there was no way to tell if a room was available without making the trek up from the 2nd or 3rd floor. As a developer, one of my most base instincts is to problem-solve my way out of (unnecessary) physical activity. So, that’s just what I did.

Both of the rooms have a red light outside their door to indicate its occupancy. I added a socket adapter to each of the outlets, so that whenever the light came on, it powered the socket. My coworker Ricky and I designed and 3d-printed a small housing which contains a wifi-enabled Particle Photon microcontroller and a USB power-adapter. Whenever the light turns on, the photon connects to wifi and broadcasts its status. A small script runs on a server and checks if either of the rooms are available, and if the status has changed, removes the previous status and tweets out the new one. Accurate to the minute, you can know, beyond a doubt, if you can, indeed, zen.

Check out the Instructable for more information.