Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Future of the Alarm Clock

So, here’s an alarm clock. It has a digital display, shows you if it’s AM or PM, and runs on standard 120V AC current from your wall outlet.

Oh, and also it cooks bacon - thus the piggy shape, and the bacon tray. How clever.

That’s right. Instead of waking up to an eardrum-shattering electronic wail, you can wake up to a soft sizzling sound, and the smoky, savory smell of freshly cooked bacon.

To tell the truth, I think this thing would just evoke dreams involving bacon. Let’s say I dream about racing from the cops in a brand-new Porsche, maybe somewhere in Hawaii. Abe Lincoln rides shotgun, and 5 puppies are seated in the tiny rear seats.

I hammer the accelerator, and shift into 6th gear – we’re going 155, and the streetlights flash like strobes as we fly down the open road.

The police lights shrink to pinpoints in the rearview mirror. We’re home free.

Then, back in the real world, the bacon alarm goes off. But I don’t wake up. Instead, the gear shift turns into a strip of bacon. Lincoln eats it in one bite, gives a big shit-eating Lincoln grin, opens the passenger’s door and leaps out, landing a perfect commando roll – wearing his stovepipe hat the entire time. With no gearshift, the car’s practically useless, and the cops catch up.

They confiscate the puppies and impound the Porsche.

In other words, the wondrous dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

Maybe the smell of bacon is not the best sensory stimulation for your morning wake-up. I hate being jarred awake by a blaring radio, or the alarm-clock equivalent of an air raid siren.

But the bacon alarm, I fear, is simply too mild-mannered to actually wake you up without fail. Simply refer back to my dream turned to nightmare scenario above.

It got me to thinking.

What else could we use for a morning alarm? What other sounds, smells, or sensations would work well, but not scare you awake like the standard buzzing, beeping, screaming audible alarm – and could be easily integrated into a bedside alarm clock?

1) A gentle punch to the back, front, or side of the head: Clock with an integrated boxing glove/mechanical arm combo. Simple and elegant, it just gently wails away on you until you move.

2) The smell of a house fire: Should be enough to get you out of bed on all but the worst mornings. Clock could burn tiny bits of wood, paint, fiberglass insulation, and carpeting.

3) The sounds of a category 5 hurricane: Wind and rain can be soothing and actually sleep-inducing. But with 200 mph winds and debris flying everywhere, your subconscious will drag you out of dreamland.

4) The smell of gasoline: You’ll want to know who’s spilling the precious liquid, and whether you can scoop it up into an old milk carton before it evaporates. The clock would release a fine mist of gasoline over your bed. Don’t leave any candles burning before going to bed.

5) The sensation of having a fake mustache drawn on your face: Classic, old-school super-embarassing prank. At this point, we’ve adapted via evolution to avoid it. So any hint of permanent marker on upper lip will initiate the fight or flight response. Robotic arm (see #1) holds ink-free stylus, while electronic eye directs robot arm to appropriate area of face.

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