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Hacked Christmas lights tell you who is online

If you spend a good deal of time online, then you no doubt use an instant messaging client of some sort. Well lets say that you have someone that you want to talk with online, but you want to be able to step away from your desk until they decide to sign on.  Sure, you can setup an audio alert, but those can be annoying and obtrusive. How about trying something a little more visually appealing.

One hacker, who happens to work for Microsoft, decided to write a very special driver for a set of GE-35 LED Christmas Lights. These particular lights are known for their ability to be hacked. Each “bulb” actually contains three different colored LEDs, and due to the way they are controlled, you can use a microcontroller to modify their programming any way you like.

So what makes this hack so special? Well Andrej Kyselica used a FEZ .NET Micro Framework embedded controller to make the lights talk with his IM client. Each of the bulbs is assigned to a person on the list, and each color is associated with a status type (offline, do not disturb, away, available). That has to be the most unique use of a string of Christmas lights I’ve seen in a long time.

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