Alarm Clock Forces You To Play Tetris To Prove You Are Awake


Oversleeping sucks, but we’ve all been there. Whether its a matter of hitting the snooze button a dozen times too many, or turning off the alarm and drifting back to sleep – sooner or later, you are going to wake up late.

Instructables user [nolte919] has overslept a time or two in his life, and he set out to design a clock that would make it nearly impossible to wake up late. His clock is Arduino-based and shares many features with off the shelf models including multiple alarms, a backup battery, and snooze features. His alarm however goes one step further and ensures you are fully awake each morning.

If you hit the user-defined snooze limit, the alarm sounds and will not turn off until you have cleared 4 lines in Tetris. That’s right, you have to prove to the clock that you are awake and coherent before it will shut off. Technically you can silence the alarm for a 30 second period so you can focus on Tetris, but that’s all the break you get.

It really is a novel way of ensuring you are awake in the morning, and heck, how bad can the day be when you start off by playing video games for a few minutes?

Stick around to see a quick video of his Tetris alarm clock in action.


28 thoughts on “Alarm Clock Forces You To Play Tetris To Prove You Are Awake

  1. I doubt this will work for the really bad cases. I know people who can get up, talk with people etc. without actually being awake. A friend of mine insulted his hole family once and woke up later for good and was wondering why everyone was angry at him. So i doubt if such people won’t be able to play tetris without really waking up as well.

  2. Awesome idea! My oversleeping problem is caused by something else, however (well, other than laziness) – I seem to get used to alarm sounds really quickly, so I end up sleeping straight through the alarm even when it’s going off right next to my ear!

    My solution: Set three different alarms with different sounds, each within 10 minutes of one another – If I get used to the first sound, the second will still wake me up (and an extra one after that just to be on the safe side).

    I think I might have a go at combining these two ideas to make me ultra-reliable rather than late a lot – after all, this isn’t a hack for the clock, it’s a hack for it’s user!

  3. I wonder how long it will take until the user begins to dream about tetris moves and can subconsciously beat the game in the barely awake or sleep-walking-style state? The barely awake brain can do some really interesting things, like when you wake up from a nap on your day off at 8pm and you suddenly jump out of bed and get dressed thinking you’re late for work when you still have 12 hours.

  4. @Hans – I am such a sleeper – my mom once called me to fix her computer and somehow I managed to completely solve her issue over the phone while fully asleep – don’t think I could manage it again though!

  5. Not sure this would work for me. My problem is I get so used to just about any alarm sound I use that after a while I simply don’t wake up from it any more. In general, I’m a very heavy sleeper (my family has never let me live down the time I slept through the fire alarm going off, luckily without any real fire) so my problem is usually not snoozing or turning of the alarm clock while asleep (although both have happened as well) but I can simply sleep through anything the alarm clock might do to get my attention in the first place…

  6. If I built something like this, I’d have to encase everything in resin. I’ve tried ‘make sure youre awake’ alarm clocks, and I usually end up throwing it until it breaks.
    Now embed everything in resin and it doesn’t matter what you do, it’d still keep working.

  7. Though this is interesting, playing video games in the morning when you’re already late for work is probably not the best idea.

    I actually have “issues” waking up at times, and was thinking about building an alarm clock without a built-in snooze or “off” button, but instead a wireless one i could leave somewhere around the house.
    This would force me to get up and walk, which i don’t usually do while sleeping.

    Also, i believe using a random alarm tone each day should improve its effectiveness quite a bit.

  8. Holy crap, I thought of this a few months ago! I meant to have my laptop turn on at a certain time and start a game of tetris, progressively increasing the volume until I started playing.

    I discovered my laptop BIOS didn’t let me set a time to turn on at, and then was distracted by something else before I started looking into other ways…I have a bit of an attention span issue.

  9. nice .. got a complecated mess that was based on the same idea lol at a set time my computer starts and begins playing what ever record i leave on the turntable … i have to get up and turn off the record player and shut down the tack that runs it ….. if i forget to shut down the task winamp starts with increaseing volume

  10. It’s more of a habit, but when I was in school, I used to wake up to the wonderful “red alert” siren on my iPhone and fire up a game of solitaire to wake me up. ‘Course, I did sometimes fall asleep afterwards or in the middle of it and sometimes the alarm went off an hour late because my phone would switch over to CST since I live right on the CST/EST border. Still, I like this idea. Better than the bowling ball, bucket of water, and tilting bed alarm clocks I’ve seen.

  11. Jesus Christ, I have to PROVE to a MACHINE that I am awake?? Well let us just construct a clock that requires you to submit a formal proof of some linear algebra law or something, how would that be? I’m honestly afraid for our future… Because of projects such as this clock and Gimme, the begging robot (, I’m heavily depressed that machines are going to own our asses soon.

  12. Yeah, I had an app on my android phone that would also let you set an option to prove you are awake. The option was called “simple math” and it asked you to answer a math problem to prove you are awake.
    Unfortunately, the alarm was going off the whole time while it waited for my answer to a “simple” math problem. It was simple, in theory, just multiplication and addition. You know, 3 digit multiplication, and 4 digit addition to that, at 5:30am while I’m trying not to wake the rest of the house.
    Since I would rather not throw my phone into the wall, and it took too long to remove the battery (couldn’t even exit the program to kill it), I have since uninstalled that program.

    1. Alarm Clock Plus has multiple levels of math difficulty as choices, including different levels in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I generally snooze once and then once I hit snooze again I answer the problems while the alarm is off.

  13. Great idea, as mentioned before it will not work for some people. For example today I made my bed, ate breakfast, took a shower, brushed my teeth, laid back on my bed and was out cold for 30 minuets.

  14. I need two of these immovably mounted over an arm-span apart so that my wife and I both have to prove we’re awake, otherwise one of us will turn it off and the other will stay asleep.

  15. I use Alarm Clock Plus and I use math for snoozing. There is another nice option for turning off the alarm through shaking the phone really hard for 3 seconds. It managed to get me up for a while, but I eventually got used to it. It still forces me to open my eyes though, which is nice.

  16. Nice idea, but I am one of the heavy cases. I could beat this clock even twice.

    First by being on remote, just like Hans said. I once got woken up by a flat mate early at sunday because his computer broke and as a writer he needed it to finish an article. I got up, disassembled the damn thing, built in a spare grafics card and downloaded and installed the drivers. Then I went to bed, woke up again and actually thought my mate was kidding when he thanked me for repairing his rig.

    But I would not hear the alarm anyway. I once had to wake up absolutely positively and set my stereo up to wake me up with a Clawfinger-CD at maximum volume. And I actually overslept the whole CD.

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