A couple of weeks ago, our CIO John Halamka started a new feature on his blog about new devices and gizmos. The first one was about the Orb. He writes, "The Orb is a handblown etched glass sphere containing LEDs for every color of the rainbow plus a text pager interface with an XML parser. . . . Metrics are turned into a web service call that results in a page to the Orb every 5 minutes, updating the color."
John noted that you could "place Orbs at the nursing stations, in waiting rooms, or on the CEO's desk etc."
Being an MIT grad (and apparently sharing one of John's geekiness genes), I couldn't resist, and he was kind enough to get one for me and install it. You see it on my desk above. It gives me a signal of how many people are actually in the waiting room in our Emergency Department. The Orb supports 35 different colors and glows blue if no patients are waiting, greens for 1 to 5, yellows for 6 to 10, reds for 11 to 20 and flashing red for over 20.
I know this might seem a little silly to some of you, but I actually like the idea and wanted to see it in action. For people who want to keep track of important metrics but don't want to have to check their computer over and over again, it is a handy tool with lots of applications.