Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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White Noise Clock

Soothing Background Noise That Tells Time
  [vote for,

When I'm barely awake at 4AM I'd like to be able to get an idea of what time it is without rolling over, opening my eyes, finding my phone, and flipping on the blindingly-bright display—at which point I would be fully awake and much less likely to fall back asleep quickly.

A number of alarm clocks feature the sound of simulated raindrops, simulated ocean waves, frogs, crickets, etc. to cover up background noise and make it easier to sleep. This would take that concept and add a time-dependent sound. For example, a cricket chirps quietly five times in a row every minute or so when it's between 5:00 and 5:59.

Now I can figure out roughly what time it is without even fully waking up, and in a way that doesn't disturb me when I'm asleep.

It could even be simplified so that once it's past I-may-as- well-get-up-o'clock (say, 30 minutes before when my alarm is set) the sound changes from raindrops to ocean waves.

frankus, Dec 16 2013


       I always thought that *white noise* had a constant sound, whereas your idea has the sound changing. That sound changing alone can wake me up!
xandram, Dec 16 2013

       I think he means the infomercial definition: waterfalls falling, raccoons farting, owls consuming mice, etc. [+]
FlyingToaster, Dec 16 2013

       // That sound changing alone can wake me up!//   

       This could be solved by altering the system so that the sounds are changed gradually. This way the sleeper won't be wakened inadvertantly, yet should he wake, a pure sound of crickets will indicate to him that it is 5:00, but the crickets will gradually come closer to the beach as 6:30 comes along, finally being drowned out by the gently lapping waves by 6:00.
TomP, Dec 16 2013

       Add in marines landing supported by helicopter gunships at 6:15 and you're guaranteed not to sleep in.
pocmloc, Dec 16 2013

       Out of interest, why do you want to know what time it is when you wake up at 4am?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 16 2013

       This could be done by using "antisound". Antiphase sound energy emitted by the device creates "silences", blotting out any ambient noise. By modulating the degree of cancellation, a sort of faint yet clear whispering can be generated.
8th of 7, Dec 17 2013

       This would be interesting - especially if it was programmable. But I'm cursed with excellent hearing, so it would be tough to transition gently enough between a breeze soughing through branches to prop planes warming up at an airport to a tropical storm.
normzone, Dec 17 2013

       I agree [norm]. I wake up with the slightest sound. I do run a fan 24/7 in our bedroom and that white noise is great for sleeping. If I do wake up during the night, I just look at my clock.
xandram, Dec 18 2013

       I think I would like a white noise white noise alarm clock which plays white noise all night, cutting it out abruptly when it's time to wake, like jolting awake on the cold linoleum when the fridge condenser clicks off.
calum, Dec 18 2013

       ^ There's one for college dorms: make the beds out of bathroom floor tile; save clogging up the restrooms in the mornings.
FlyingToaster, Dec 18 2013

       //like jolting awake on the cold linoleum when the fridge condenser clicks off//   

       Sounds like a line from a film noir voiceover. As in: "Her kiss was like..."
doctorremulac3, Dec 18 2013

       For me, it seems that I can train myself to wake at a small sounds or to sleep through a loud one. In high school I had a loud alarm clock, but I would sleep through it because I knew my mom would drag me out of bed for school. In college I learned to shut my alarm clock off before the second (much quieter) beep because I didn't want to wake my roomates, even though I was getting a lot less sleep and the environment was noisier. My first job after college had very flexible hours so I started sleeping through my alarm again. My current job and kid's school schedule is much more rigid, so I'm back to waking up more reliably.   

       I've noticed that if there is some really important reason to wake up, or I'm worried that I'll miss the alarm becuase I got to bed late, I will be worried and wake up more frequently to check the clock to be sure I didn't miss the alarm. Using the white noise clock would be very useful for avoiding that situation.   

       I prefer the concept of the simplified version where the sequence of sounds is determined by the time before the alarm goes off, not the actual time. That way you don't need to expend the mental energy to count the crickets and then remember what time you actually want to wake up today. A transition from wind to rain to ocean waves can probably get programmed in my brain at a much more subconcious level.   

       I wonder if this could be usefully combined with something like the SleepTracker watch to synchronized sounds transitions with sleep states. After becoming used to different sounds in different states, it might be possible to accelerate or slow down sleep cycles by changing the sounds early or late. If that worked, this clock could use the sounds to guide you through an optimum set of sleep cycles for the time avaiable before the alarm goes off.
scad mientist, Dec 18 2013

       I will need to purchase an alarm clock soon - how can we go about baking this?
normzone, Feb 05 2014


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