Do not disturb: How to use smarts lights at home to reduce Zoom and Slack call interruptions

The best way for remote workers to prevent family members from being too loud and interrupting video and phone conference calls is to use smart lights around your home. This solution works with HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Nest smart home platforms.

Apple HomeKit compatible button and smart lights used to signal when I’m on a call

When I first became a remote worker, primarily working from home, I was frequently interrupted by my family during Zoom and Slack calls. When they weren’t interrupting my calls, they would still talk loudly and make a lot of noise, oblivious that I was on a call down the hall from them.

I initially tried to let everyone know that I was about to have a call by messaging them. That didn’t work because they didn’t always have their devices with them, and it was also inefficient and a little annoying.

I needed something where I could press a button, and everyone would know that they needed to be quiet if they were near my office because I was on a call. The idea I came up with was to use a light that was similar to the “On Air” light recording studios use. The only problem with that solution was my spouse would never allow it. There was no way she would be okay with me installing an “On Air” light outside of my office. An office that resides right next to our bedroom.

What I originally wanted to get: “On Air” LED light with remote

I knew the idea was good, but I needed to find a way to make the physical lights invisible. That’s when I came up with the idea of using an LED light strip underneath my door. I bought the Sylvania Smart LED Flex Strip because it works with Apple HomeKit and comes with adhesive, making it easy to stick to the bottom of my door. I also bought the HomeKit compatible Eve Button so I could quickly turn it off and on from my desk.

The solution worked perfectly! The physical light was hidden, but the light emitted from it could be seen from down the hall. I programmed the EVE Button to turn the light on with a single click and to turn off with a double-click.

There was one problem with this solution. Unless you were in or near the hallway, you wouldn’t see the light. That meant if any of my family members came from any other direction – upstairs, front door, back door, etc. – they wouldn’t see it. So I realized I needed more lights in more locations.

I bought two Philips Hue Play smart lights. I placed and hid one of them behind the TV in the living room, which is at the other end of the hall from my office. I placed the other in an inconspicuous place upstairs that would shine on the stairwell when someone was coming downstairs.

This setup has completely stopped interruptions and loud noises when I have conference calls. The only time it doesn’t work is when I forget to press the EVE Button.

Smart home call light system requirements

Here’s everything you need to create a smart home call light system.

Apple HomeKit

Amazon Alexa and Google Home

The best button option I could find for Amazon and Google was the Stream Deck. Using the Stream Deck in conjunction with IFTTT, you should be able to control the Philips Hue Play smart lights. Additionally, these Sylvania Smart+ LED light strips are compatible with Amazon and Google, but I don’t know how well it will work with the Stream Deck and IFTTT. Like HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Home require hubs.

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw