Of all the devices found in a modern household, the alarm clock is arguably the one which could benefit most from the injection of a little intelligence. At least, that's the belief of engineer Pieter Delobelle, who has recently completed the first functional prototype of an Arduino-based alarm clock capable of tracking the user's sleep and monitoring their upcoming events.
Dubbed Bao Time, or bTime, the alarm clock has existed as a very early prototype since July this year, but it's the latest prototype where things get really interesting. The heart of the clock is simple: a pair of NeoPixel rings act as the clockface, shifting to display the current time; before the alarm is due to trigger, the LEDs gradually increase in brightness to simulate a warm sunrise. So far, the design is nothing new - our friend Martin Raynsford built a similar clock back in November last year.
Where things start to get really clever is with Pieter's integration of an accelerometer sensor which is placed within the bed. This tracks movement, and has two purposes: it begins the countdown to wake-up when it detects someone has got into bed, meaning you never forget to switch the alarm on; and it tracks how much they move during the night, providing an insight into the quality of sleep.
That already makes for a smart alarm clock, but Pieter's design gets better still: the microcontroller chosen for the prototype, the Arduino-compatible Particle Photon, includes built-in Wi-Fi network connectivity, which Pieter has used to allow the clock access to the user's calendar information. When no events are set for the next day, it can allow a longer sleep; when early morning events are set, it automatically brings the alarm time forward to ensure the user isn't rushing to get there on time.
Pieter and his friend Gerben are looking to eventually create a commercially-viable implementation of the bTime clock, which will include a custom-built LED panel for the clock face. For now, though, the Arduino-based prototype, demonstrated perfectly in his work-in-progress gallery, is a great start.
After long nights hacking and soldering, the first prototype is ready: the bTime alpha prototype v0.1 features a combined clock face and sunrise ambient leds, located at the front of the alarm clock. On the back, you’ll find a power jack, usb port for charging a cell phone and a connector for the sleep sensor.