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Slap Yourself Awake with This Ridiculous “Wake-Up Machine” Alarm Clock


Crazed “Creative Technologist” Simone Giertz is at it again, this time trying her hand at creating an alarm clock that smacks her in the face with a rubber hand to wake her up. And you thought Clocky was annoying.

We asked Simone to tell us how her Wake-Up Machine came about. Here’s what she had to say:


I’m not very good at mornings. Sometimes, I wish that I could start my day with something other than a morning, like a lunch or an afternoon snack. But I’m stuck with the reality of everyday life and have instead tried optimizing my morning routine to something that I can bear on a daily basis. For example, I automated my breakfast by programming a robot arm and even made a toothbrush machine to help me brush my teeth afterwards.

But I had saved the biggest morning routine hurdle for last. The most difficult challenge of them all, requiring determination, dedication, and discipline: getting out of bed. One of the big reasons it’s so hard to get out of bed is because it’s so comfortable. So why not build an alarm clock that makes staying in bed a little bit less comfortable? Since I’m a self-declared scientist and inventor who knows how to do stuff, I started my project with some research (like scientists do) and compiled a list of my findings:

Things That Make Beds Uncomfortable:

  • Crumbs from last week’s nocturnal nachos
  • Fire
  • Rubber arms that slap you in the face

I settled on the last option. Because what better way to start your day than being repeatedly slapped in the face by a disjointed rubber arm?

Here is the resulting Wake-Up Machine, in all of its ridiculous glory:

Warning: Simone likes to curse like a sailor (she does live on a houseboat) and the F-bombs start flying when she wakes up to some nasty smacks from the Wake-Up Machine.

For the arm, Simone used a rubber Halloween prop, a bloody, torn off arm and hand. To make it slightly less disturbing looking, she used nail polish remover to remove the blood and removed the exposed bone and other torn icky bits. She used an Arduino Uno and a relay that gets triggered when the alarm goes off to control the device. A brushed DC motor from ServoCity actuates the arm when the alarm is triggered.


As you can see from the video, like many of Simone’s wacky inventions, the clock didn’t quite work as planned. And that’s what I love about her projects. Simone lives in a Wallace and Grommet/Jimmy Neutron world where automation and every technological convenience seems only a Rube Goldberg project away. SO close, and yet, so far. But in the midst of the absurdity and chaotic results, we learn about problem solving, working with microcontrollers, robotics, and servomotors. There are great tech solutions out there. And it’s fun, entertaining, and even educational to watch Simone search for them, and more often than not, not find them. You go girl! As the 90s conceptual artist Bill Barker (he of Schwa fame) used to say: “In the future, everything will work.”

6 thoughts on “Slap Yourself Awake with This Ridiculous “Wake-Up Machine” Alarm Clock

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  2. She’s a Maker and she likes to curse like a sailor? Oh my God, marry me!! :)

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn