What dreams may come

Dave Wilson considers the humble electric alarm clock, and decides that a prototype design from MIT Media Labs should come with wings.

“Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.” – Ambrose Bierce

I like sleeping. It’s one of the things I do well. And, as my dad used to say, if you find something that you are good at, stick with it.

So it goes without saying that I do not like alarm clocks. I had one once, years ago. It was one of those rather annoying items with a large red LED display and a radio built in.

But it did have one very useful feature. It had a snooze button. So after setting the alarm for 7.30am, I could fall soundly asleep safe in the knowledge that even after I had been rudely awoken by the pedal steel sound of WLLR, I could get an extra 15 or 30 minutes in bed by whacking the snooze button once, twice or however long I liked.

After several months of it though, I got fed up. And eventually, I simply decided to go to bed early enough so that I would wake up refreshed without the need to be awoken by such a monstrous invention. And to this day, that’s just what I’ve done [This is a joke, right?! Deputy Ed].

But some folks, it appears, aren’t quite as logical as I am. It seems that some of them are simply addicted to their snooze buttons. So much so, that each time they are awoken by their alarm clocks, they continue to hit them, grabbing extra 15 minutes or so of sleep between snooze intervals. Until of course, they are late for work!

Recognising this as a serious issue, Gauri Nanda, a Research Associate at MIT Media Labs has developed an alarm clock with a difference.

When Nanda’s ‘Clocky’ alarm clock goes off and the snooze button is pressed, it will roll off the bedside table and wheel away, bumping into objects on the floor until it eventually finds a spot to rest.

Minutes later, when the alarm sounds again, you must get up out of bed and search for it, ensuring that you’ll be wide awake before you turn it off. Small wheels enable it to move and reposition itself, and an internal processor helps it find a new hiding spot every day.

As amusing as this invention is, I am quite prepared to wait a very long time until it reaches commercialisation. Especially if the production models look anything like the MIT prototype.

Because it sure is an ugly looking cuss. Imagine, if you will, a toilet roll covered in carpet shag with a couple of rather cheap and nasty looking Meccano wheels stuck to it and a rather rubbishy LCD display poking out its middle.

Waking up with this young lady might take the sting out of Clocky

But, as repulsive as it is, that’s not my main issue with the thing. No, what I really object to is the fact that, in reality, rather than actually solving the ‘problem’ caused by its less motivated cousins, it just makes life more miserable than ever for its owner.

Can anyone in his right mind really imagine running around their bedroom at 7.30 am in the morning searching for the thing after it has decided to go hide? I’d only have to find it once, that’s for sure. Because for its next trick, it might like to see how well it could fly out the bedroom window.