Smart’ifying a wall clock with – time to wake up! [part 2]

Panic, get up, or stay in bed and continue sleep?

Panic? Get up? Or stay in bed and continue sleep?

Ok, so sandwiching a clock on clock wasn’t the greatest idea there – what would be the next marginally smarter idea? Adding wake up alarm! In the vast sea of alarm implementations there isn’t much to be celebrated in terms of unique and clever design. So going for the context around it: How about hose dark moments in the middle of night when one suddenly wakes up wondering if the alarm goes off at the next moment.

 Wake up alarm – what’s wrong with those?

No matter what kind of alarm clock I have had I have always ended hating it. And thus this feature is likely make me hate this clock too. When no direct sunlight is available, wake up alarm is the one that synchronises me with outer world. It’s reason of existence if to drag out of sweet warm cozy bed to face the momentarily hard cold realities of – reality! (Namely: The moment my feet touch cold floor.)

What if there was a way to positively enforce the message:”Yes, please continue, you have several hours to go” or alternatively give a hint “If you are awake now, don’t go to sleep any more“, to avoid need-hate relationship forming.

Implementation alternatives

World is full of different mechanisms to set up alarm time, so I will settle with simple “hh:mm” jQuery dialog box for that. For the interesting “how do I message still remaining sleep time?” -probem I found several mechanisms alternatives:

  • Emulating sunrise, typically a trickle lights do that – this works for short duration only before wakeup
  • Emulating planetary movement – projecting a moon using servos for wide movement or maybe showing or phases of moon
  • Doing an artificial visualization

While natural and planetary movements are always tempting, the lack of projector and having seen trickle lights of various kinds I decided to to to artificial visualization – I kept it a simple display a color-changing arc for a hour hand from current hour to wakeup.

Note: The jumps on arc movement that are  highly visible in time lapse video were a bug that was revealed by the video. 

Looking back at the Ikea clock vs NTP

Less than 5 seconds time difference in 6 days.

Less than 5 seconds time difference in 6 days.

Ikea clock is so accurate that I could not catch a visual drift during the first day. After  few days the drift got big enough for measuring – it actually is about 1 sec per day. For something this cheap I say the Ikea clock is pretty damn good. (I do sound like a broken record here, right? Not a CD-D-D-D-D though.)

Does it blend?

TL;DR: It blends. There is room for improvement. There always is.

Ultimately, some hidden features of any product reveal themselves only after playing out with the hardware in real environment . One side effect I did not consider was whether having an indicator of remaining sleep time would have an advese impact to sleep quality. Apparently indicator has to be both smooth in transitions and absolutely dimmed down not to have an impact onto sleep. Now, with this LED strip the usual problems are there: the lowest brightness level is too bright, and using level like 0x01 on RGB quantizes available colors to six. Thankfully this is merely a software problem with the library I use, as the LED strip supports extra 5 bits for global brightness control. I will issue OTA firmware update once I have library that implements  that.

As I have a feeling there is room getting this clock smarter, the series will continue..