Our computers are already pretty good at alerting us to things that happen on the internet or on their own hard drives, mainly through the use of pop-ups. We all know what can often happen, however ... we get rid of those pesky notifications in order to finish up what we’re currently doing, and then forget about them until we’re logging off. A physical flashing light attached to the computer, however, would be harder to forget yet also less obtrusive than a pop-up. That’s the idea behind the blink(1) USB indicator light.
The blink(1) is the size and shape of a regular USB Flash drive, and contains a full-color RGB LED bulb within its polypropylene body. Via an on-screen interface, users can control the color, brightness, and blink pattern of that bulb. They can also stipulate what events will cause it to illuminate. These could be pretty much anything, although some suggestions include incoming emails, tweets in which the user’s name is mentioned, friends’ Facebook updates, notifications of completed downloads, or “to do” alarms.
It could also be made to change color in accordance to the local temperature, to serve as a warning when the computer is becoming overloaded, or to indicate network speeds. If it were hooked up to a USB extension cable, it could be mounted at the door of the user’s office to serve as a “Do Not Disturb” light.
In any case, different combinations of colors, brightness and/or patterns can be assigned to different notifications. Multiple blink(1)s can be plugged into one computer (one for each available USB port), allowing for several notifications to be taking place at once.
According to the folks at Los Angeles-based ThingM, who make the blink(1), users require no programming knowledge and do not need to download any extra drivers. The device is open-source, however, so techy types are encouraged to hack to their heart’s content. It is compatible with Windows, OSX and Linux operating systems, or just about anything with a USB port.
ThingM is currently raising money on Kickstarter, in order to fund commercial production of the device. A pledge of US$25 will get you one, when and if they’re ready to ship. The estimated retail price is somewhere over $30