Alarm Clock sketching

By: Wen Ma


Through project 1 my examination of the alarm clock, I decided to improve its efficiency and interactions mainly from the following aspects: clock setting process, ring tone setting process and different ways to turn it off. I want to make some opportunities that human beings can actually communicate with machines. Alarm clock is a small thing but necessary for our daily life. Everyday, it has our first interaction with technology. However, usually, the more it does, the more hatred it gains. Therefore, I hope through the following ideas, we can get some fresh experiences with alarm clock. To me, start a new day is not always bad and exhausted as long as it starts with something active and positive. Hope you enjoy it.
(The ring tones are all set as default existing in the following ideas. For alarm clock is not a public published item, user critics till posted just limited with family members and neighbourhoods. )

Selected ideas:

  • Ceiling alarm clock (by both battery and electricity)

Kids, Youth, Middle ages.

Since lots of alarm clocks make very loud noise, however with less movement, are still hard to make people awake. The ceiling alarm clock is mainly focusing on increasing user's movement. Because this alarm clock is up too high on the wall or on the ceiling, the users have to stretch to get there. A good stretch, from my own experience, really helps my to wake up and get into a positive mood. The stopping system uses a touching screen effect for both output looking and simplicity. Just in case from my own experience, some people fall asleep again after a beautiful stretch, I also developed a scent sending system. As soon as the alarm was stopped, it automatically sends a mint scent that helps the user to awake. Moreover, my reason of hanging that clock that high is just for the reason of waking up. Therefore I added a voice control clock setting system that reduces trouble for setting, and a simple operate controller which is seperated from the alarm clock. The controller, however, has nothing to do with stopping the alarm; it is designed for disabilities, different languages for people who don't feel comfortable with voice controlling. The alarm clock display screen is designed four sided; which means, front, left, right and bottom. No matter which side the user's bed is, it is always not a problem to read the time. That also force the user to install the clock as higher as possible because the higher it gets, the clearer the user could see.

Using process: ( Take 7:00am for alarm and 9:30pm for time for example)
1.Install the clock on the ceiling or on the wall. Make sure it is higher than you could easily reach to get the best effort.
2.Use the sound control system, tell the clock: Alarm clock, set 7:00am. Then the number 7:00 appears on the screen. If tell the clock: Time, set 9:00 p.m, then the clock automatically transfer into 24 hours displaying, and appears 21:00. (Or use the controller to set time)
3.Set ring tones. After the clock setting, use the sound record system to set ring tones. Tell the clock: Set ring tones. Then the clock goes to a countdown that starts with a "beep" sound. The it will record all the sound that happens in this room in the following five minutes. The user could also stop the recording at any minute by saying "stop" to the clock. When hearing "beep" sound, means the ring tone has been saved.
4. Sleep.
5. In the morning, when the alarm rings, the numbers on the screen starts flashing. The clock plays whatever ring tone that has been saved the night before. Mint scent is sending.
6. The user could easily see the time from all kinds of directions. When the clock is touched, it stops ringing.
7. It automatically rings for 5 minutes and automatically stops.

Ideal user experience: (Flash please click)

User critics:
Since I am taller than average people, I decided to install the alarm clock on the ceiling in the middle of my room. Then I have to get out bed and jump to reach it. I think it works. If I really need to get up and I have already made it out of bed, why should I go back. I think it's very hard in experience of affordance, but effective as well.
Family members and neighbourhoods
My mother is supporting this idea, though she admits it's very dangerous to install it. It's high and for close to the bed, you have to stand on the bed and put something soft under your feet. It's very dangerous sometimes. However, she thinks it does work as an alarm clock.
A granny opposed it, she said she can never reach that high. So that's why I decided to make each clock focusing on certain audience.
An Asian woman I talked with shows that she would love to have one, she said her kids would love it. She has three kids at home all going to elementry school; she wants some exercise for them. I think that make sense. Kids seek for competitions, if an alarm clock can raise a competition like, who can reach it or who can reach it first, that would be very helpful.

Flow chart:


  • Plan reading alarm clock. (by both battery and electricity)

Youth, Middle ages, and Some Elders

Plan reading alarm clock is mainly focus on business people or people with lots of schedule. In reality, lots of people still has to check their agenda or calender to see if they have anything arranged to do. However, sometimes people just forget to check it. Some of my friends complained that they have their agenda used everyday but they never check it, as a result, they forgot things from time to time. So I decide to develop this idea of plan reading alarm clock. Not only for wake up, but also for properly reminding. The plan alarm clock setting is very easy. It could be connected with a keyboard to type or a sound device to record whatever you like / you need. The alarm setting process is screen touching. There are two buttons which says time setting and alarm setting. Then you take an electronic pen (sell with the clock), switch to the right screen and writing on the screen. When the writing is done, just press the button again and your graphic is saved and the alarm is set. It starts to read your whole day plan (or whatever you type/record to the clock) when it gets to a certain time. The stop system is also screen touching. The user has to erase everything on the screen to stop the alarm. There's no snooze devices on the alarm clock, which means, it will read on and on until it has been touched. However, there is a volume increasing device. It keeps increasing volume until it's been stopped.

Using process: ( Take 7:00am for alarm and 9:30pm for time for example) :
1.Put the clock anywhere that feels comfortable and easy to get the sound.
2.Connect a USB device to record sound or connect the clock to a computer that could type. Then user could type or record anything they like to be awaken. Howver, the default setting is alarm time reading and basic business daily schedule.
3.For setting the time, user bought the clock with an electronic pen. There are two knobs on the clock, one of them is for regular time and another one or alarm time. The user uses the electronic pen to draw time on the screen. There's a CPU in the clock that recognize handwritings perfectly. After turning the time knob, the user draws 21:30 or 9:30pm, then turn the knob again, the graphic would be saved. The user could also draw decorations, that won't affect the accuracy of the time. Then the user turn the regular time knob, and there's again a blank screen to draw on. Just like the way I mentioned, the regular time could be set in the same way.
5.When it gets to the alarm time, the clock starts to read things that has been saved by the user (or default setting). The volume keeps increase until the clock is stopped.
6.In order to stop the clock, just erase all the graphic on the screen.

Ideal user experience:

Experiences feedback:

Compare to the last feedback, I think this one helps the elder from some points. If some elders are not good at reading, then a listening alarm clock definitely works. However, if some elders are not good at listening, it does the opposite way. But I really enjoyed the drawing and erasing part.
Family members and neighbourhoods
My mother is not good at drawing, she said if only writing is ok, she will like it. But she said she doesn't really have a lot plans to do in a day, so she suggests to change the daily plan into a weekly plan. (which I think is not really necessary, so I didn't change the plan mode.)
Most people shows an "OK" attitude towards this clock, which I thought is also "ok" because like my mother said, not everyone really needs a busy plan alarm clock. Since it has a recording device, people shows that something fun would be good to play after the plans or before the plans.

Flow chart:


  • Breakfast cooking alarm clock (electricity only)

For all kinds of audience who eat breakfast

This is an alarm clock which could be merged into a microwave oven. From my own experiences, when I got up late, I rarely got the chance to eat a hot breakfast. It upsets my stomach all the time and it upsets my mood as well. Therefore I post this idea of a self cooking alarm clock. The alarm clock is connected with a microwave, when it's not necessary used, it could be take off. People set the clock just like how they set a microwave. As part of the setting, to put food in the microwave the night before is very important. The clock starts to heat breakfast 10 minutes earlier before the alarm time. After the breakfast is ready, there's a fan that starts to blow the scent of breakfast towards your bed. Most people starves in bed especially the next morning, so the smell of breakfast will definitely get them out of bed. At the same time, for efficiency, a ring tone has to be set. It could be any music or connect with a MP3 by a USB device. It's very easy to turn off as well, by just taking out the food from oven.

Using process:
1. The clock could be installed in or connected with a microwave oven.
2. The user set the clock like to set a microwave. The breakfast cooking alarm clock is just a timing device because most of the microwave has a regular time clock. The user set power, then press the alarm time on the microwave screen, then click start, the alarm would be saved.
3. Draw any curve lines on the door of the microwave, the CPU will recognize the line as a pattern of sound wave. After finish drawing, it will be automatically saved as ring tone.
4. The clock starts to heat breakfast 10 minutes earlier before the alarm time. After the breakfast is ready, there's a fan that starts to blow the scent of breakfast towards your bed.
5. Take the food out of the oven in order to stop the clock

Ideal user experience:


Audience critics:

I didn't really practise this one but I imagined to experience it for a few times. I think the charming part of it can be showed from the fan and smell of food. Also I love the way to close it, simple and easy.
Family members and neighbourhoods
People love the idea of this one but showed their confusions as well. They appreciate its convenience and it really saves time in the morning. However, the operation and the sound wave recognize system makes them confused. Most of them are worried with duration and what the tone would sound like. Questions like "what if its horrible to hear, then do I still have to bear it in the morning?" . Because they never really practice it, they showed little confidence towards the ringtone system. However, I still decided to keep it for future developments.

Flow chart:


  • Vibrating Alarm Clock (button battery only)

For all kinds of audience

The idea of a vibrating alarm clock is mainly directed at student or people on a meeting or date. Compare to other alarm clocks, the vibrating alarm clock has a different appearance. It looks more like a piece of jewlery or a hand watch. It starts to vibrate when it gets to the alarm time. There's a knob on the side to set ONLY alarm time. In other words, unfortunately, the vibrating alarm clock has no regular clock adjustment function. However, it does have a special cool way to check time out. Because it is very close to human body, so it's very easy to get people's attention. It vibrates on people's hand, arm, finger or ear which does no harm to human body. It just has a vibrating device, so there's no radiation involved, none like a cellphone. Vibrating alarm clock is totally silence and it appears to be more gentle. Also, because of its silence, it won't disturb others and meantime it gives user a reminding. Especially on meeing or serious important situations, it will be very useful. For students, it's a good reminding for their study time too. Though it might not affect a person's attitude or personality, at least it does its job.

Using process:
1. Different from other alarm clock, because vibrating alarm clock is comparasive smaller, the user has to set it first.
2. Regular time setting was done by special technology by the manufacture. The screen of this vibrating alarm clock is heating sensory. The user only has to put hand or anything that between 30 degree to 70 degree to show time. (Like how they show Modo words in the Lord of Ring).
3. Alarm time adjustment is basically the same as a traditional hand watch. There's only one knob on the clock, meanwhile, the knob could be both pushed in and pulled out. The user twists the knob to set alarm time like they set a hand watch. When the time is setting, the screen shows temporary traditional clock face but disappear in 1minutes after the clock movement is over. The screen is super thin LCD (liquid crystal display) material. The methods is just like a screen saver on computer.
4. Events going on.
5. When it gets to the alarm time, it has different ways of vibrating. It starts with several long vibratings and then followed by some short but more frequently vibratings, and last pulsing vibrating which might cause tiny discomfortable to human body.
6. Rub anywhere of the clock surface a few times to stop the clock. (finger rubbing is fine)

Ideal user experience:

Audience critics

This is my favourite alarm clock in these six ideas. This alarm clock is not only using for wake up, but also using for reminding functions. It looks nice first of all. It is light enough and easy to take with. It's silent but useful. The way to turn it off is also easy.
Family members and neighbourhoods
Through development of neighbourhood, they like it too but also popped some problems. Usually, the first question they ask is whether it's expensive or not. Another one is, if it's rubbed accidently, then would it be still working. Then that's also why I put on a hitting system. Not only for showing time, but also for valid rubbing.

Flow chart:


  • Puppet alarm clock (Battery only)

Only for kids

This alarm clock is made especially for small kids. The point is to teach them recognize body parts and numbers. The puppet alarm clock can be made into famous popular cartoon characters in order to get the kids' attention. The clock face and hands can directly be touched and rolated. Kids rolate the clock hands to set alarm time. Underneath the clock face, there's a digital screen that also shows time. When the clock hands are moving, the digital screen shows which time was set; if not, then the digital screen shows regular time. By compare the two clock faces, kids would know better about a traditional clock face. The ringtone could be anything they like. They can record their own voice, their parents' voice or their favourite songs. The puppet sings and dances when it gets to the alarm time and request the kids to press a part of their body. Compare to purely get up from bed, it is more like a game in the early morning. Kids have to press the correct part in order to stop the song.

Using process:
1. The puppet clock is very soft of touchness. Kids could hold it to sleep, as a result, it also achieves a better waking up effect.
2. There's no regular time on the surface of this clock, but it does have a time device that support the alarm. The alarm clock could be set by the kids themselves. The clock face and clock hands can be touched and rolated. The electronic clock underneath shows what time has been set. For doing this, it improves kids' ability to recognize time and traditional clock face.
3. Kids can record anything they like for ringtones. For example, they can record a bird or a song or their own voice. just by pushing the noise of the puppet, they would use their creativity to start up a new day.
4. Sleep.
5. When it gets to the alarm time, the clock sings and dances. Meanwhile it shows a word on the electronic screen. Kids have to press the right body part to stop the clock. (Just general large body parts, like left hand, right foot or elbow)
6. The clock can be reset anytime.

Ideal user experience:

Experience critics: I have difficulties to interview kids, so I just experienced it myself. What my mother concerns is if it's dangerous for small kids. I told her not to worry because everything is covered inside.

Flow chart:

The word covered with water mark is "Press the wrong body part". Sorry for the confusion.

  • Orange alarm clock (Button battery only)

For all kinds of audiences

It's an orange looking alarm clock. The whole clock is divided into twelve to represent twelve numbers on a clock. There are number's on each of the orange pieces. By setting the alarm clock, the user has to move the orange piece they need up and down. When the alarm rings, it sents an fresh orange breath and all the pieces will spread out. In order to stop the alarm, the user has to put those 12 pieces all together again. The time is shown by a projector, the projector starts in the middle of the orange and blow the number up on the ceiling. Therefore it's easy for the user to see the time.

Using process:
1. Put the clock on somewhere flat.
2. Set the clock by moving twelve orange pieces up and down. For example, 7:00am. The user has to move the orange piece with number 0/12, and then number 7, and pieces with 0/12 twice again.
3. At the bottom of this clock there's a small round screen that shows alarm time and regular time. By spread out all the pieces apart ( not taking them off), the screen shows alarm time. Then put them together, it shows regular time.
4. Regular time setting is the same way as alarm clock setting.
5. The whole clock is a radio.
6. Sleep.
7. When it gets to the alarm time, the 12 pieces all spread out apart seperately. The radio starts and sents a strong fresh orange breath. There's a projector in the middle of the orange that blows up the time up on the ceiling when it rings.
8. To stop the clock , the user has to put the pieces back in order.

Ideal user experience:
First of all, please forgive me for replacing the orange. I am sure I found an orange in my fridge, but it was my bad not making an announcement. And my dad just ate them all. Terribly sorry about that. I used a pear instead for this slide show. Please forgive me.

Audience critics:
I like the way to set it. It makes me feel that I almost broke something but actually I didn't. I would like the smell of it if I really smell it. I like the time projector too.
Family members and neighbourhoods
People showed their likeness in the feedback. People like it in my research too. They didn't give too much feedback on this one.

Flow chart:



Like I said in the foreword, the purpose on designing alarm clock is to give a fresh experience for everyday user. I am still using some of the buttons, but add more affordance that force the user to get up and do something. I think buttons are necessary in my object because in order to compare and choosing an alarm, most people have past experiences that actually effect their choices. Though a brand new experience is on the goal, but connect past and future experiences, to me, is also important. My ideas, instead of totally creating an experience, I choose to develop and experience. Personally, I don't think people who don't have past experiences with an alarm clock would choose the ones that have more convinience and interactivities. Therefore, I choose to keep part of traditional and develop its potential.

Other ideas that not necessarily using:

  • automatical bedlight
  • 'Shaking bed
  • Prickly alarm clock
  • Video playing alarm clock ( kind of in exsistence / ) not so expensive and attaches to the computer
-USB storage /CD device needed.
-Uses a USB way to plug in.
-downloaded videos/ websites ( online music/ videos)
-Can be used anywhere as long as computers are available
-May need to keep your computer on all day.
-Huge cost of electricity
-The operations might be complicated
  • "Crash me" alarm clock ( or slap it...or smother it... torture it.....)
-Definitely realize hatred towards being waken up.
-After it's being crashed, it grows back itself. (thinking of materials that can't be broke easily and grows back itself, magnetic iron? )
-Don't have to clear up the mess afterward.
-Not suitable for children because it's a violent action.
-Needs very usage durable mechanical core.
  • Sponge alarm clock
-Its shell is made by sponge or rubber that uneasily to be broke.
-Make it into a flat shape / or circle and a hollow at the top of it.
-Put the stop knob under the punch hollow.
-Every morning the user punch it to stop it.
-Have different size / specifications for different age level or women. (depends on the differences of strength)
-Muscle developing. It can be punched anytime.
-In order to not getting hurt / Feeling hurt, the shell would be very thick and soft.
-But if it's's uneasy to reach the stop knob
  • "Punch to wake up" alarm clock ( or tickles to wake up)
-There's a sponge boxing glove outside the clock.
-To get more efficiency, User can place the clock anywhere they feel like sensitive enough. ( Face, feet, stomach)
-It won't be too hard on the user, but it repeats.
-Never use it for a kid.