Inner Objective Trauma - Enchanted Alarm Clock

Made by jmaffey, Akshay Soma and Emily Liu · UNLISTED (SHOWN IN POOLS)

Represent time in an abstract way, give a person context about what has happened while they were sleeping, and introduce a friendly face in the morning

Created: December 5th, 2021

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Intention: 

Our intent is simple: we want to help you wake up, get out of bed, and start your day in a positive mental state. We want to change your relationship with sleep by changing your mental state when you wake up through exposure to data streams. 

This device is about our relationship with time. Often, devices interrupt us at the wrong moments. This device intervenes precisely when you need it - in the right context for the need you have in the moment. In this case, in the moment when you wake up, when you’re groggy, when you need a little nudge of your mindset to get you up (your desired behavior). This is an example of calm design. It’s about respecting the attention of the user. 

We think of this as an ‘enchanted object,’ which connects ordinary objects with a bit of technology that adds magic. Our magic is the random live counts of something that’s happening in the world, that allows the user to tie the seconds and minutes to an impact outside of themselves, and thus change their internal state. And thus, get out of bed and begin their interaction with the world. 

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Approach

Going through the iterations of our design process, we zeroed in on the space between your hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock in the morning and when you get up. Many people struggle to get up and start their day, and we wanted to explore how we could intervene in that mental space with an IoT device to help motivate people to get out of bed and start their day right. Our device functions as a regular alarm clock - until you hit snooze and don’t get out of bed. The 'Conceptual Design' segment explains how it works. 


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Context

Situate the design proposal based on at least three references to past works. References to concepts, theory and methods introduced in class should also be made. These should be well-cited and illustrated.

The first picture below is the Withings Aura, an IoT alarm clock that uses light and sound to wake someone up. We were inspired the light aura as well as the pressure sensor that only turns the alarm off after the person has gotten out of bed. 

The second picture below is the Arduino LED Matrix Info Display. We were inspired by the LED Matrix; it's large and easy to read, and can display multiple types of information (time, day of the week, weather). It is also a form factor that we could use. 

The first picture below is the Network Clock with OLED Display. Here we were inspired by the ability to display multiple pieces of information at the same time. It also showed us we can use the internet to set the time, so it always shows the right time, including daylight savings. 

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Conceptual Design

You wake up, groggy, and hit that snooze button. When you do, the digital clock face snaps from showing the time to showing 00:00, while ambient lighting on the device lightly starts glowing. The device pulls a randomized data stream about an event in the world that has a count (e.g. number of birds migrating north, births in an area, packages delivered). This data stream becomes a count, and each time an occurrence happens (e.g. each time someone is born in an area) the counter goes up by 1 (00:01, 00:02, 00:03), accompanied by a subtle pulse of light. The person waking up thus connects the extra minutes they spend in bed to wonderfully-random events happening in the world; in real-time. The nature of counting forward brings the person waking up to encounter more instances of these events the longer they stay in bed, hopefully motivating a headspace that is conducive to waking up and starting the day.

The user may be too tired to look at the count directly, but he or she will still be aware of the pulses of light with each count. This may even prompt curiosity on what is being displayed on this particular day, which can help motivate the urge to look over and see, and from there feel more connected to the outside world, and - hopefully - a greater desire to get up and be a part of it. 

In the prototype, we only use a dummy data stream. More on this in the process section. 

If we had more time, we would have used an LED display where we could display both the count and what data is being represented. 

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Sketch and Storyboard 


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Process

We went back and forth on what data stream to use, of if we should use multiple. We decided to demo with one, but ideally this would be a random data stream about the world. We decided this to prevent the user from becoming numb to seeing only one thing every day (no matter how interesting that thing is). Variable rewards are powerful motivators for humans. 

We couldn't figure out how to get the live webhook to work. So, we created a google sheet and connected it to the Particle Cloud. In the future, this sheet would be live updated with various data streams. 

No matter what we tried, we could not get the LED display to output. So, we pivoted to the two 12-LED neopixels as a way to display both the time and the count. 
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Model Process