37 thoughts on “Haptic Clock Lets You Keep Your Eyes Shut At Night

  1. “Bedside alarm clocks are a thing of the past and now you rely on your smartphone to tell the time.”
    There you go. you had the simple answer, and now you complicated it. Some things in life are best kept simple.

    1. “We found an issue with the new solution, so instead of using the old solution, we built a NEW new solution!”
      But seriously, there are times when I wake up in the night, but I know if I even open my eyes at all, I won’t be able to go back to sleep.

      1. “We found an issue with the new solution, so instead of using the old solution, we built a NEW new solution!”

        Ha! For anyone with school-age children, tell me that doesn’t describe Common Core perfectly, with the exception of the old solution not having had an issue in the first place.

    2. ” Only, if you turned the screen on, you’d find that looking at it in the dark is tantamount to staring at the sun without eye protection. ”

      What?

      What modern smartphone doesn’t automatically adjust it’s backlight brightness based on ambient? I never have this problem!

  2. You should have used a PIC32MX170F256B instead. PIC32 supports Framed SPI with Word Clock, so you can use I2S Audio DACs directly. And the 256K of flash is enough for all speech samples with 8kHz sample rate (TelCo standard).

    1. Yes, I have used a projection clock for over a quarter of a century. I see the display (which is NOT too bright!) the instant I open my eyes without having to find or touch anything. It has a built-in RF receiver, so the time source is the atomic clock in Denver, Colorado, U.S. You are not going to get any more accurate than that.

  3. One of the things suggested for good sleep hygiene is to not have a clock by the bed.
    (Checking the time when having problems sleeping tends to make people stress about not
    sleeping.)

    Might be worth rethinking the problem. Is knowing the time what you really want?
    For instance, if you just need to know the proximity of alarm time, then maybe
    just giving feedback on that (with a yes/no, or some feedback with a few more levels)
    might reduce the cognitive load, and reduce worry about how long it has been since you last checked. (Don’t have to find what the time is, compute the relation of that to wakeup time, etc.)

    e.g. it vibrates if alarm is within 1 hour. Or, if need more resolution, it vibrates twice if wakeup in 1/2 hour.

    1. The sunrise lamp I built a few years ago was great for this, although I haven’t installed it in the new house because it really needs some revision that I haven’t gotten around to.
      I am a very light sleeper and a clock-checker, so just being able to tell the relative time based on the intensity and color of the light made it easy to open my eyes, realize it was still early, and go back to sleep.

  4. This is a centuries old concept. Montre a Tact pocketwatches were made for the blind hundreds of years ago, they had bumps for hours indices around the case, and a special hour hand that floated to a hard stop inside the watch when the wearer touched it.

    The hand could be rotated to that hard stop, which was on an isolated hour gear in the watch, so the stop for the hand would follow the time on the hour gear.

    This worked all day long, so wealthy blind men could reasonably accurately tell the time.

    1. And the new version is an app that speaks the time when the phone is shaken or it senses an increase in ambient light or by touching the power button or at certain intervals, like an old cuckoo clock.

    2. Some of the Swiss watches have a “minute repeater” function that buzzes a pattern that quickly conveys time. I use it in meetings when it would be bad to be seen looking at the time.

  5. I stopped looking for the time at night as the notion forces some reaction upon me and i get back to sleep easier. So now my phone wakes me in the morning, but i have no direct readable display, so no data to digest.

  6. Wow, I got featured in a Hackaday article, cool! Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions. There are some great points being made, and I’ll consider them for future iterations. This started as a project to address a problem I had – for me personally, I found that I both hated opening my eyes and also found it hard to muster the vocal-energy to speak loud enough for my Google Assistant to hear from across my room. I found that feeling the vibrations was surprisingly effective even when half asleep, but considered that an option for it to speak the time would make it easier for more people. At the end of the day, the project was about learning and applying new skills. Even though I wasn’t able to keep up with the Hackaday Prize timelines this year, I plan to get it to a point where I could manufacture it (as was this year’s theme)… Even if no one buys it :)

  7. I was thinking about using a mechanical clock that has one pleasant rhythm at bed-time and another at the time to get up with an impermeably slow transition from one to the other as the night goes by. Eventually the neural net in your skull will subconsciously become aware of how far along you are in your sleep period and you will be able to feel what time it is without even having to think about it. That would be about as un-disturbing as you can get, provided you like the sound of clocks ticking.

  8. Ok, so what I don’t understand is, my Samsung oled display, displays the time all the time in red. So if I wake I see a faint red time. My old nokia did it better with only lighting a few pixels.

  9. I use an RGB led running through the rainbow as a night light on the landing, so I have a rough idea of the time if I get up in the night for any reason. The wife has an oled clock I made for her with a gesture sensor – wave and time is shown for 15 secs., then back to darkness.

  10. Hey cool, my project was featured by Hackaday! Thanks for all the comments, criticisms and suggestions – I’ll do my best to incorporate them into future iterations of the project! As for why I chose the haptic mechanism, personally I find that even if my screen is dim my eyes are so heavy that it’s difficult to open them enough to read, and if I force them open I’m now much more awake. I found the haptic feedback to be surprisingly effective even when half asleep, but it took some practice and so I added the audio feature as an option to make it a little easier. As for asking Google Assistant/Siri/Alexa, I understand that works for some people but like the heavy eyes I find it difficult to muster enough vocal energy for my Google Assistant to hear me across the room.

    At the end of the day, this project was a great learning experience and although I wasn’t able to keep up the timelines for the Hackaday Prize 2019, I plan to continue developing it to a manufacturable product as per the theme of the contest – even if I’m the only one to buy one :)

  11. I never leave my phone near my bed.
    It’s a distraction from sleeping.
    A digital alarmclock (with leads for power, and backup-battery) is simple, cheap, quick and very reliable.
    Even with an outage. It can operate from battery for 5 days, with ease.

    We have a landline-phone next to our bed, for emergency calls, for those who are close to us.

    No cellphones in the bedroom.

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