Light-up signs let co-workers know to stay away

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A Wired In sign for the desk can let co-workers know you can not be disturbed.
A Wired In sign for the desk will let co-workers know you cannot be disturbed.
Photo: Wired In

Everything about your vibe – the earbuds, furiously typing fingers and intense body language – says do not approach. But the steady stream of co-workers stopping by your desk can’t take a hint.

You could tell people “Can’t talk now!” but you’re afraid to come off as rude. Your politeness is killing your productivity.

A Utah startup called Wired In has come up with a simple, sleek desk accessory that does the talking for you. It’s a light-up sign that lets people know you’re in the zone without insult or anxiety.

Signs come with simple messages or can be customized.
Signs come with simple messages or can be customized.
Photo: Wired In

Early traction on Wired In’s Kickstarter campaign shines a light on this timeless hiccup in office communication. With a little more than 20 days to go, Wired In is less than $4,000 away from its $25,000 goal.

The acrylic sign sits on an aluminum base. Multicolored lights illuminate messages like “On Air,” “Wired In” or “In the Zone,” but could also be customized with humor and bluntness. An iOS app lets you activate the wireless sign and adjust the color of the LED lights.

One of the co-founders, Joshua Howland, told Cult of Mac he and partners Caleb Hicks and Andrew Madsen had a “lights-on” moment when they observed one office where workers used makeshift lights to communicate a desire for undisturbed concentration.

“We caught the vision immediately,” Howland said. “What if everyone working in open spaces had a way to signal they shouldn’t be bothered? We could take the lights concept, add custom messages … and have an exciting, culture-changing product.”

Wired In made several prototypes and, before going all-in, gave them to a few Provo-area companies to gauge appeal.

A positive response led them to Kickstarter, where they launched May 4. The signs range from $20 to $50 on Kickstarter, depending on whether you want Bluetooth or a custom message.

The signs work with Android and iOS, including the Apple Watch.

For the boss tired of seeing lots of non-work chitchat, a $500 pledge would buy 20 signs with custom text.

“We worked with another local team and they told us they don’t even want to hire another round of developers until they get more signs,” Howland said.

Unfortunately, Wired In will not guarantee the sign will keep the boss from stopping by your desk to pile on more work.