There's certainly plenty of readymade devices out there that'll give you information
at a glance
, but if you're more the DIY-type you may want to follow the lead of David Bue Pedersen from Volunteer Lab Rat, who put together this spiffy little picture frame that notifies him when his friends are online. There's no fancy LCDs here, however, just some plain old pictures housed in clear frames with an LED placed on top of each, which light up whenever the person is on IM or Skype. Needless to say, there's quite a bit of coding and some slightly daunting hardware hackery involved to get all that to work, but Pedersen has at least provided the necessary schematics and board layout if you want to give it a go -- you can even push things all the way up to 22 LEDs if five isn't enough for you.
[Via Hacked Gadgets