After working from home for a while, I bought a standing desk that can move up and down.

I'd like to have better understanding of my work patterns, especially these 2 metrics:

  • how much time do I spend at the computer
  • how much time the table is up/down

There is a laptop placed on the standing desk and there is a docking station for the laptop mounted underneath the table. There is a external (24" inch) display connected to the docking station. The display is placed right next to the laptop. The power strips are also located underneath the table. The laptop is connected to the network via Ethernet, running alongside the table (with some slack enough to move the table up and down).

To acquire the values, I'd like to mount Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W underneath the table (so it will be moving up and down with the table). For the height of the table I will go with the US-100 Ultrasonic Distance Sensor that I will solder to a permanent breadboard mounted directly on top of the Raspberry Pi.

What I am not sure about is how to detect my presence at the computer reliably. When I am working, I always use the external display. The first idea I had is to acquire the power consumption of the display somehow, perhaps using some outlet monitoring sensor however I could not find one that would supply the values to the Pi directly.

Next idea I had was to add a temperature sensor and attach it to the display, however I am not sure how reliable the detection will be in the summer (the back of the display where I'd like to place the sensor is not particularly warm) or which sensor to use and how to connect it to the Pi (I use 1-wire sensors for outside temperature however I find these finicky). I'd like to avoid any sort of light or proximity sensor since I don't think they will be reliable enough. Messing with the network (e.g. monitoring traffic) would require to add Ethernet capability to the Pi (or use different Pi model that will not be as compact) and would not be reliable either. Any other ideas ?

  • monitors tend to have a power indicator light.
    – Abel
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 23:28
  • this is a Q&A site ... not a brainstorming forum ... please describe a specific problem that you are trying to solve ... describe the difficulty you are having with solving said problem ... ask a specific, answerable question
    – jsotola
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 6:52

1 Answer 1


"What I am not sure about is how to detect my presence at the computer reliably."

Why not just take the easy route with no extra hats or sensors needed, and check for mouse movement or keyboard input ... unless you have a cat who may cause false positives. 😄

  • I kind of forgot to add that I'd like to avoid doing any changes to my work laptop w.r.t. software, mostly because it is almost always connected to VPN and I don't want the collected data (inadvertently) available to nobody but me.
    – Vlad
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 15:02
  • Consider a PIR sensor.
    – Gil
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 1:58

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