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02-20-2008

The Turing Alarm Clock

Nick Johnson

This is an old invention of mine. I had trouble waking up for work, and traditional alarm clocks didn't seem to help. I learned to hit the snooze or off buttons in my sleep. The problem was that alarms are too easy to turn off, and so I set forth to create an alarm clock that challenges me to prove that I am awake.

How should it challenge me? Well, I'm from a math background, so the natural choice is with arithmatic. A problem like 23*17 + 6 will keep me thinking for at least 20 seconds; if the alarm clock makes me solve five in a row, then it can be sure I'm awake. There's no way I can learn to do this in my sleep.

The design is powered by a PIC16 microcontroller, which manages the user interface and keeps time. It displays the current time and the arithmetic challenge via a cheap lcd from all electronics.
 

The design is free and open source; do whatever you want with it.

If you wanted to make advancements to the design, may I suggest:

  • A battery backup. As it stands, you must have enough will power to leave it plugged in.
  • A radio? I suggest the Si4701 single-chip radio.

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