Smart speakers and displays such as the Amazon Echo Spot or the Lenovo smart clock have become part of the furniture in many households, and they're unashamedly futuristic-looking, high-tech devices - but what if you prefer a more understated look or long for a more tactile experience?
You’re not alone. A Swedish designer felt so strongly about wanting a product that actually looked like it belonged in his home that he's created a concept which merges modern features into a classic alarm clock.
John Karlsson, who specializes in UX or 'user experience' design, posted a 20-second clip on Twitter, featuring a traditional-looking alarm clock. Made from metal, it has two bells and a hammer that would usually move back and forth between the two bells to create a sound. The screen appears to be an analogue clock face too.
However, it soon becomes clear the device is smarter than it looks. The bells are actually navigation dials, the left dial lets you scroll through the different modes, such as clock, alarm, and timer, which are displayed on the circular screen. The right dial allows you to set the time for the alarm or the length of the timer.
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More tactile approach
“I wanted to create something that could invoke that feeling you’d get from things like spinning an iPod wheel, folding a flip phone to hang up, or just pressing real buttons in general,” Karlsson told TechRadar.
It’s not a physical product at present, but rather a digital proof-of-concept. Karlsson designed the interface and stitched it onto a video of his old alarm clock. “I wanted to see if there was any interest in a product like this, or if it was just me,” he added.
[CONCEPT] With smart devices in every room, will consumers prefer a more subtle & traditional look? (🔈on) pic.twitter.com/A70hpMHQPcAugust 5, 2020
Karlsson said he’d expect the alarm clock to have a hard-coated LCD touch display around three to four inches in size, that would "support the two dials with additional toggles and buttons". It would also feature a digital alarm that could be better controlled when it comes to volume and tone than the extremely loud alarm found on most mechanical alarm clocks.
“I’m not sure what the future holds for this concept, but I’m more than excited to see how far I can take it.”
If you're interested in following the progress of Karlsson's project you can sign up to receive updates.
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Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.