Topic: why an alarm clock?

first of all, let me just say that i think that this is no less than friggin' fantastic.  if i wasn't busy on other projects, i'd be trying like heck to get a developer pre-release chumby, and you can bet that i'll be buying one of these as soon as they're available- and i'm already telling everyone i know to do the same.  i hope y'all see obscene financial success off this, because i'd love to see a rev.B chumby.

there's just one thing that i don't get: everywhere i read something about the chumby, i see mention of it as an alarm clock.  yes, sure, that's only the starting point- but *why* is that the starting point?  first impressions matter, and i can't see the drooling masses shelling out $150 for an alarm clock- talk of a subscription would no doubt scare away yet more members of the ill-informed and credit-card-bearing herd.  i paid $20 for my alarm clock (as has everyone else i've talked to), and they all seem to work just fine.

if this is a tinkerer's über-tool, then why not market it as such?  or at least pick a default use that more closely suits it's price point?  heck, throw a couple IR LEDs on the default model, include a widget for browsing TV listings, and sell it as a universal remote with built-in program listings.  anything but an alarm clock....

whatever you do, you've got my support...and you'll have my money as soon as it's available for purchase

2 (edited by Skoshi 2006-09-07 11:50:26)

Re: why an alarm clock?

I think this thing is AC powered not battery (although I hope battery back-up) so a universal remote as it's "platform" would be rather silly ;-p

"The device normally operates from a standard 12V wall wart, but includes a 9V battery to keep the clock alive during power outages.  Under full load (display on and everything), the 9V battery lasts around half an hour.  The chumby can detect if it's running on the internal battery and currently shuts off most of the power-hungry hardware.

We made a "portable" chumby for Foo by connecting two lantern batteries to the main power connector.  We needed it to test the 14 or so wifi base stations we spread around O'Reilly's building for chumby users.  That will last a *long* time.

The wifi is on all the time."

So It it has to be plugged it you need to find a "plugged in" style function for it.  In a bedroom you typically have 3 plugged in features.
1.) Light
2.) TV
3.) Alarm Clock.

Everyone has a bedroom and spends time in there... rarely does it have existing high-end tech... so that is a great room to target for technology.

While a TV could be a great spot to start upgrades... the screen size is cost prohibitive... I mean alot of us sport 20" TV's or bigger in there... so just for the LCD alone you are talking like $150... now upgrade it to touch screen and the cost jumps again PLUS the thing is too far away from where you are sitting... I don't have a 20" TV within arms reach that's bad for my eyes.

A light... well you can get upgrades for those... nothing fancy but pretty much everything that can be done HAS been done on bedroom lighting.

So you are back to the alarm clock.... a piece of equipment that can't even tell you what day of the week it is... it's usually ugly and most of them can't play CD's or MP3's so they wake you up with a god-awful buzz.

This little piece of hardware is what you start your day with... look at it like this... when people buy a PC I tell them "don't skimp on your monitor, keyboard and mouse... the machine can be fast as hell but if your mouse is not optical or your keyboard has keys that stick you will feel like you are on a $20 piece of garbage."

It's all about the interface... and an alarm clock is basically your interface for the morning... a bad morning can quickly spiral out of control and become a bad whole day once you get into a foul mood.

If you can be awakened to music you enjoy... without remembering on sunday night to turn the alarm on... and without a power spike or something resetting your clock (IMHO it should be set via atomic clock and have battery backup) and it tells you the weather etc... so you pack your umbrella.. and it knows what day of the week it is and maybe informs you it's your dad's birthday...

Well... that's a damn fine start to the day... the chaos and evil buzz that a typical day starts with might fade away and we could be left with a much more civil and up-to-date life style.

I mean it might all sound like making a big deal out of a clock... but seriously how annoying and "dumb" is your current one?

3 (edited by Angela 2006-09-08 20:33:50)

Re: why an alarm clock?

If you're not on chumby's marketing team, you should be! I liked the mouse and keyboard analogy.

Looking at my bedroom, my clock is the one thing that is seriously out of place and it stays there just because I can see the time at a glance at night. With an iPod why would I listen to the crackly mobile wakes me up...but that is really annoying if I've left it on the kitchen bench and have to get up to turn the damn thing off. If I get up too quickly my blood pressure drops and I feel dizzy...not a great way to start. So having chumby attached to the wall on my bedside table (nightstand) is actually a positive thing.

I think you've almost hit on their slogan....

Chumby...a better start to the day!   (That's my IP now! Royalties please...  big_smile )

Re: why an alarm clock?

Yeah there are lots of devices that can BE an alarm.... watches.. cell phones... PDA... even notebooks and desktop PCs.

But none of them conviently land in the same spot in the bedroom.. the nightstand.

Watches are not loud enough.

Cell phones are not always where you need them since you move it around alot.. and lets face it quite often the battery goes dead and it won't be waking up anyone.... a dead cell battery is no reason to be fired from a job.

Notebooks shouldn't be tied down to your nightstand.. and are kinda loud for a clock.

Desktops are too big and too loud.

So really you rule out an awful lot of gear as a replacement simply by a quick 20 second assessment.

You are left with the alarm clock or the TV doing the job of the alarm clock.... and IMHO one day it will be the TV (but that is a whole other conversation)... but it ain't today.. and it ain't tomarrow so Chumby has time to shine.

Re: why an alarm clock?

Angela, one "tag line" we were tossing around was, "Wake up and squeeze the chumby!"

Well, maybe needs more thought smile

Why an "alarm clock replacement?"  It's a good question and one that we really do struggle with.  On the one hand, the chumby *does* do so much more, why pigeon hole it?  On the other hand, we need something, some existing purpose, for most people new to the whole concept to sort of mentally hang it on.  "The ultimate uber-geek tool" somehow doesn't really work for most people conceptually (though *we* are the type of people who get excited about this).  For the various reasons and behaviors cited, we think that the clock radio is pretty low-hanging fruit -- just recall the last time you had a *positive* experience with a hotel clock radio yikes

I like Shawn Conahan's post on exactly this topic: … can-today/

But we're all ears.  If there really is some better way we should be "positioning" this, I'd love to hear it.


Re: why an alarm clock?

Steve Tomlin wrote:

Angela, one "tag line" we were tossing around was, "Wake up and squeeze the chumby!"

Well, maybe needs more thought smile

Knowing what most boys do when they first wake up....eeeeew!! hmm

What about....   Chumby...wake up to the future!

Re: why an alarm clock?

I'm confused... when I wake up in the morning I kiss my daughter on the forehead and then go take a shower...  I'm usually running too late for work to do much else.

If it's the weekend I get up throw a pair of shorts and a t-shirt on and grab some lunch as I trek down to the basement to surf the web.