IQ Inc. Co-Op Solves Silly Problem with Technology!

Tabs or Spaces, Composition or Inheritance, and yes — vi or Emacs; at IQ, strong opinions are in no way rare. When you build a team that values collaboration and communication you often stumble upon touchy subjects that beg to be discussed. Sometimes these discussions can grow lively. Sometimes these lively discussions can be bothersome for others who are working nearby. At IQ we are guilty of occasionally having lively discussions in places where others are trying to focus. On one hand it is an excellent sign that our team is collaborating and having fruitful discussions, but sometimes it can get out of hand. Omar Salha, Pitt Computer Engineering student, was able to help us out with this.

One day when talking to a coworker, I spontaneously had a thought that maybe we could teach our employees to recognize when they were too loud.  Sure, it was a bit Pavlovian, but it might just work. The idea was something like: “Let’s make a device that would measure the ambient noise in an area, and if it goes over a specific level, it will blink or do something noticeable.” The theory is: as a group engages in a vigorous conversation, they would see a red blinking light out of the corner of their eye(s), which would be their cue to move the conversation to one of our designated collaboration areas. To be clear, we encourage a lively and fun culture at IQ, and even have special locations around the office, collaboration areas, that exist to house these kinds of lively discussions.

As part of his Co-op at IQ Inc., Omar’s task was to design this device from the ground up.

Omar’s plan for this device was to use an Arduino Uno, an omnidirectional microphone to measure noise signals from all directions.  After the Arduino and microphone were working, he then constructed a small array of RGB LEDS to display colors associated with noise threshold values that are user-defined. In addition to the LEDs, he attached an OLED display to show the respective decibels readings from the microphone.  Currently he is working on a fully functional UI system to add, delete, and modify the threshold values.

The end-goal is to have Omar design a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) that would allow IQ to produce a few of these devices. We will then place the devices on top of cubicles in a few strategic locations around the office.  Whether these will solve our “noisy-collaboration” problem or not, is anyone’s guess.  With all the hard work, collaboration and IQ Inc.’s team guidance, Omar is going to finish his rotation with much more knowledge and experience than when he started.

“IQ Inc. has challenged me by making me use the hardware part of my degree to gather parts and make sure they all work together so nothing goes wrong.  They also helped me utilize the software part of my degree to construct the code to make the Arduino Uno work properly and to build the user interface.”

– Omar Salha

If you are interested in learning more about our Co-op program or being considered for a position reach out to us at info@iq-inc.com and follow us on IQ Inc.’s social media channels for technical news, job postings, blogs and more.