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    Smart Alarm Clock

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    The Theme this month is smart alarm clocks and it comes from dwinhold .


    Its to build an alarm clock with modern features such as voice assistance, streaming music, video, camera, an SBC, weather alerts, news alerts, moon phases, appointments from your phone, oled or LED screen.


    An internet connected smart alarm can set itself automatically, based on your calendar, and monitor for important messages from friends or family.


    While some may insist that the alarm clock is dead, they still make them so someone must be buying them.


    The alarm clock is in a similar position to the wrist watch before smart watches tied to fitness started appearing.


    It’s been in hibernation, waiting for the right technology to give it just the right amount of modern features to make it palatable to the masses.


    Like the wristwatch, there are still too many of who never stopped using alarm clocks to wake us up, and having to rely on the smart phone to do one less thing is comforting.




    The days of changing out alarm batteries and remembering to set your alarm for daylight savings is over most people and they never missed it.


    While a smart phone can certainly be your alarm clock.   The alarm clock isn't dead yet, and it's probably just a matter of time before someone comes along and convinces us we really do miss having one.




    Having been one of the few holdovers that still relied on his alarm clock that’s lasted him since the 80s, and knowing this theme was coming, I decided to give the Echo Spot a try.


    It is a little strange having a device with a camera pointed at my bed but then again, many would argue that having devices with a mics that listen in on you all the time is just as weird.


    Unless you’re a hold over for the flip phone, this really is something that shouldn’t feel strange because we carry smart phones everywhere now.


    Nevertheless, I will probably put a piece of tape on the camera for no other reason than to feel comfortable.


    The Evolution of Telling Time


    In prehistoric times, man used the elements around him to tell time to plan nomadic activities, farm, hold sacred feasts and anything important to them.


    The Sun Clock


    A sundial relies on sunlight to tell you the time of day by using sunlight based on the apparent position of the sun in the sky.


    The earliest recorded record of sundials comes are shadow clocks from Ancient Egyptian and Babylonian Astronomy.


    There are references in the Old Testament which suggest people may have been using the shadows from the sun to tell time before this.


    The Water Clock


    A water clock measures time by the regulated flow of liquid into or out of a vessel where the amount is then measured.


    It's one of the oldest ways to measure time and it developed regionally in many different areas including China, India, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, the Greco-Roman World, the Medieval Islamic World, and Korea.


    The simplest form of the water clock, the bowl-shaped outflow is known to have existed in Babylon and Egypt around the 16th century BCE.


    It is believed that the Ancient Greeks began using water clocks sometime around 325 BC to determine the hours of night but they may have also used them in the day.


    In China the water clock was essential to the study of astronomy and astrology.  There are recorded references that date the use of water clocks to the 6th Century BCE.


    The Greeks and Romans are responsible for advancing water clock design to include the inflow clepsydra with an early feedback system, gearing, and escapement mechanism, which were connected to fanciful automata and resulted in improved accuracy.


    In Byzantium, Syria and Mesopotamia there were further advancements to increase accuracy by incorporating complex segmental and epicyclic gearing, water wheels, and programmability. Those advances would eventually make their way to Europe.


    Further advancements were made independently by the Chinese who developed their own advanced water clocks by incorporating gears, escapement mechanisms, and water wheels.  They would pass their ideas on to Korea and Japan


    The Mechanical Clock


    Galileo is credited with inventing the pendulum as early as 1582 but would not live to see his design built.


    The first pendulum clock was built by a Dutch Scientist by the name of Christian Huygens in 1656.


    It had a mechanism for using a natural period of oscillation. When completed,  it had an error of "less than one minute per day", a massive leap forward in accuracy over what had been previously achieved.  Later refinements got it down to "less than 10 seconds per day".

    By 1657 Huygens pioneered the "balance wheel and spring assembly" which can be found in some of today's wrist watches.  This allowed accuracy of time to approximately ten minutes a day.


    In 1671, William Clement began building clocks with an anchor or recoil escapement.  This interfered even less with the perpetual motion of the pendulum system of clock.


    By 1721, George Graham had invented a design with a degree of accuracy to one second a day by compensating for changes in the pendulum's length caused by temperature variations.


    Development on the mechanical clock would continue to increase until it achieved an accuracy of a hundredth of a second per day,  making it an acceptable standard in most astronomical observatories.


    The Quartz Clock


    A quartz clock provides a level of accuracy that is an order of magnitude greater than a mechanical clock.


    It runs based on the piezoelectric property of the quartz crystal. An electronic oscillator regulated by a quartz crystal is used to keep time.


    The crystal oscillator provides a very precise frequency and some form of digital logic counts the cycles of this signal and outputs some form of numeric display.


    An electric field applied to quartz changes the shape of the crystal creating an electric field when you squeeze or bend it.


    The interaction, when placed in an appropriate electronic circuit, between the mechanical stress and the electrical field causes the crystal to vibrate thus generating a constant electric signal that can be used in an electronic clock display.


    Quartz clocks are the most widely used pieces of time keeping technology due to their accuracy and reliability of performance.  However, their time keeping performance has since been surpassed by the atomic clock.


    The Atomic Clock


    An atomic clock operates on the principles of atomic physics and uses the microwave signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known.  They are used to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts for international time distribution services, as well as, global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.


    The electromagnetic radiation that each chemical element and compound absorbs and emits is highly accurate even over Time and Space.


    The development of radar and subsequent experimentation with high frequency radio communications during the 1930s and 1940s led to a vast warehouse of knowledge regarding electromagnetic waves, also known as microwaves, which interact with atoms.


    The development of  atomic clocks first focused on the microwave resonances of Ammonia and its molecules.  Beginning in 1957 NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, led a series of test using a Cesium Atomic Beam device, followed by a second series of experiments when working on the atomic level.  By 1960, the Cesium Time Standards were incorporated as the official time keeping system at NIST.


    Cesium now maintains an accuracy with a degree of error to about one-millionth of a second per year.


    Cesium Time Standards continue under development at NIST's Boulder laboratory, as well as, laboratories around the world, in order provide more precise measurements for the next generation standards.



    A Brief History of Alarm Clocks

    You can credit an engineer, around the year 725, with one of the earliest recorded records of a device used as an alarm clock.  Yi Xing was an engineer, mathematician, Buddhist monk, and astronomer whose task was to improve calendars in China.  He took it a step further by building an astronomical clock named the “Water-Driven Spherical Bird’s-Eye-View Map of the Heaven.  It not only measured time,  it measured the distance of planets and stars.  A water wheel turned the gears on the clock and it released puppet shows and gongs at set times.


    It’s believed that personal mechanical alarm clocks originated in Germany in the 15th century but their inventors are unknown.  The first well-known alarm clock was from an American inventor named Levi Hutchins.  While Levi is largely credited with inventing the first alarm clock, German and English alarm clocks predated this so this is a rather dubious claim.  He invented his alarm clock in 1787 so that he could get up at 4 am.  Although this wasn’t the first personal alarm clock, Hutchins claims he never heard of the others.


    It was the idea of a clock that could sound an alarm that was difficult, not the execution of the idea. It was simplicity itself to arrange for the bell to sound at the predetermined hour. – Levi Hutchins


    Hutchins never patented his invention, it was simply a means of fulfilling the “firm rule” he gave himself to wake up before sunrise. 


    The first patented adjustable alarm clock was done by a Frenchman by the name of Antoine Redier in 1847. The adjustable alarm gave the user the flexibility to set the time they wanted to wake up instead of having the time dictated to them by the creator of the alarm clock.


    Redier’s patent never crossed the ocean however, and an American by the name of Seth E. Thomas patented his own version of the personal alarm clock in 1876. The Seth Thomas Company became a mass-producer of the alarm clock as a result of the patent.

    In the late 1870s, personal alarm clocks became popular in the US, followed by Germany. The precursor to the Westclox was founded in 1885 and in 1931 Westclox invented the Chime Alarm. In 1949, Westclox introduced the Moonbeam.  It featured lights flashing on and off followed by a buzzer.


    By the late nineteenth century, many consumers were actively seeking alarm clocks as the expansion of the urban and industrial world “obligated (people) to know the time and be on time” according to historian Martin Levinson.


    The alarm clock industry was briefly disrupted as a result of WWII, but as early as 1944 they were back in business, and one of the first products to debut post-war designs.  The next big thing to happen to the alarm clock was the snooze function.  The original author of the snooze function died in 1905, nearly a half a century before General Electric-Telechron (1956) made an alarm clock with a snooze function.




    Throughout the 70s and 80s personal alarm clocks remained a popular stable in the lives of everyone.



    Like the wristwatch, it hasn't disappeared, and it's a good bet that you haven't seen the last of this device, which has had a rich 2,000 year history.


    Today,  smart alarm clocks allow you to connect to the Internet so you never have to worry about setting the time or including a battery in case your power comes out. 


    You can build your own smart alarm clock using an sbc or avr dev board and synchronize with your calendar and messages from friends and family. 


    Your Chance to Win


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    The Theme You Voted For: Smart Alarm Clock
    [Pi IoT] Alarm Clock #Summary AIS Alarm - Everything Working



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    You have until July 16th, 12:00 AM CDT to submit your completed project!


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    Give Us Your Smart Alarm Clock Ideas in the Comments Below!