Tech DeKoded — Don’t be alarmed by this!

Sad man holding pillow and a clock

Now that February is almost upon us, it would be a good (or is it bad?) time to ask you this thorny question: How are your resolutions for 2016 coming along? Still chipping away at them, or have you given up on a few? Or perhaps these are currently in coma, neither dead nor jumping out of bed. A typical example — and perhaps the most common resolution — would be to get up early every morn and hit the gym or the jogging track.

And for that, each night you diligently set the alarm, but when morning trundles by and it dutifully goes off, well, instead of jumping up and shouting, “Good morning, world! Carpe diem!”, you groggily reach for the alarm, turn it off and sink back to Dreamland. And yes, this saga repeats the next morn, and the one after that, and on and on.

ClockySo to break out of this vicious cycle, we recommend an ‘evil’ alarm clock that is a pro at chasing away sleep. In fact there are a few ‘hardcore’ hardware solutions that will wake up even Snow White — such as a bed that snaps up and literally throws you off it. Or the Clocky on wheels, which scoots away when the alarm goes off, forcing you to get out of bed and go after it; or the Flying Clock where the top part flies away and you need to hunt it down and put it back to shut up the alarm… We even remember seeing an alarm clock that shot a special golf ball out of the window and down a half-mile slope — forcing its maker to step out of the house, walk all the way down, and then all the way up — needless to say, Sleep did not survive the trip.

While such offbeat solutions will work better than the traditional — and boring — alarm clocks, the downside is that you need to spend money on them. Or whip one up over the weekend. A simpler alternative, however, would be smartphone apps that go the extra mile in this noble quest to wake you up.

Mimicker AlarmLet’s start with an alarm app from an unlikely source — Microsoft. Yes, that Microsoft. Called the Mimicker Alarm, this free Android app forces you to complete a offbeat task every morn — solving a puzzle, or snapping a selfie with a certain expression, or even repeating a complicated sentence. Such as — “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Do you remember the last time you had to say that early morn? Thought not! And oh, you cannot simply mumble your way through it — Microsoft claims the app uses a “Speech API” to listen to your attempt at the tongue twister challenge”.

Morning RoutineAnother great option is Morning Routine, which also forces you to complete a mission — such as scanning a specific barcode. For example, you could use the barcode on the milk carton in the fridge, ensuring you have to make the trip to the kitchen every morn to scan it and turn off the alarm. Similarly, the neatly-named Walk Me Up makes you walk around the house for a pre-defined number of steps. It even comes with an “evil mode” that disables the snooze button!

CarrotOn the iOS side of things, a popular option is Carrot, which claims to be a “hilariously twisted AI construct who wants nothing more than for you to get out of bed every morning”. It expects you to complete “bizarre chores each morning”, including shaking the phone to “clean out the lab monkey cages” or flipping it to “mix a deadly neurotoxin”. So if, through an early morning fog of sleep, you look around bleary-eyed for monkeys, it only means you are now awake enough to get up and smell the coffee. And then hit the gym.

Disclaimer: If any of these ‘sadistic’ alarm apps result in you smashing the phone against the opposite wall, on your head it shall be! We suggest you invest in a ‘military grade’ case that can protect your phone from such early morning collisions.