In many modern working environments, public spaces are shared across teams, raising questions about activity and availability. Is the kitchen crowded? Are you intrigued when there’s an event and wonder if you can get involved? Aura instantly communicates this information in a subtle and warm manner while beautifully complementing a space.

The Aura portals are dual-functioning lights that offer warm ambient light while communicating information about other spaces. Each light serves as a portal into a specific space and visually display three levels of information: the occupancy of the space, the noise level, and whether the current activity is public or private.

Inspired by portals, each light box is designed with a well lined with LEDs. The form factor creates depth for the lights reflecting against its inner circumference. The LEDs light up from the bottom of the portal as a room’s occupancy increases, filling up the portal. The sound level of the space modulates brightness of the lights– quieter spaces are dim while loud activity is bright.

Each portal is also connected to a privacy timer which can be installed in the space. It can be used to indicate when a space is being used for a private event. The timer can be turned on by setting the dial to the length of the time for which the space will be private. When “private”, the portals glow a soft orange; when “public”, the portals glow an engaging white – inviting others to come participate in an activity.

Through this three day project, we explored how objects could become “enchanted”. Inspired by magical powers of extrasensory perception, we tried to give lights the ability to sense and communicate energy levels and activity happening in a removed location. Working in a large team of six students, we were able to realize a fully functioning prototype, tackle a combined effort of product design, electronics, sensor building, and wireless data transfer.