Midterm Project Proposal: New Alarms and Detecting North with a Sixth Sense

Submitted by bmcrae on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 23:12
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New Alarms and Detecting North with a Sixth Sense

Team: Zach Wasson, Brian McRae, and Michael Schiff

As a team, we're currently deciding between two ideas.


A New Way to Wake People Up in the Morning

Waking up in the morning at the right time can be a tough and unpleasant task. One may set multiple alarms on his or her cellphone, only to hit the snooze button mutliple times before finally getting out of bed when the urgency of getting ready for a class or a meeting becomes great enough. If a roommate or partner is nearby, he or she may be annoyed at the harsh, repeated alarm sounds every morning. In these situations, no one wins.


How can we make waking up in the morning a more enjoyable and pleasant process for everyone? This is the question we intend to explore using tangible interfaces to create a better experience for individuals who have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.


Current products on the market that help people wake up include lights that gradually become brighter, silently vibrating bracelets, dumbbell clocks that require bicep curls in order to inactivate, and more. But while many of these products exist, few have captured the majority of the population, and the cellphone sound alarm clock is still the preferred choice for most.


We propose to examine the usage of physical touch, illumination, sound, and smell in order to create a device that generates a pleasant and effective wake up experience. We believe that there is a combination of senses that can be stimulated in addition to technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0, software to detect sleep cycles, pressure sensors, and social networks to create this type of experience. It is our aim to make waking up something that one looks forward to every morning.

Sixth Sense for Detecting North


You are lost, tired, and alone. Your food ran out four hours ago, right after you slipped crossing an icy fjord and broke your compass. Your only chance of survival lies in the tattered scrap of paper tucked into the pocket of your worn out parka: "supply cache lies at 28' N, 3' W". If only you had some way of discovering where that was. And then it hits you: NorthStar. You activate the secret switch, and immediately your leg begins tingling with a sixth sense of direction. Like an experienced ranger, you make a bullseye for the cache. When you reach it, the only thing bigger than the smile on your face is the sense of satisfaction of having mastered nature with NorthStar: the ultimate intuitive navigation device.


We propose an anklet titled NorthStar with three buzzers and a compass used to localize north by varying the intensity of vibration of each buzzer. The vibration will eventually fade into the background, essentially giving the user a sixth sense of the direction of north. The anklet can easily be extended to connect to your phone's GPS through Bluetooth in order to provide waypoint navigation. While driving, the buzzing could be adjusted to increase intensity as a user nears a turn. As an alternative to turn-by-turn navigation, the anklet could just point the user in the general direction of a given static point; this could be useful while walking where a general direction of where you're going is enough to find your destination. The anklet could additionally be used for other applications, such as one where it vibrates when you are around a previously saved location. This could be used to help bring up old memories from special places in your past.

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