Wake to the smell of money (or peaches) with scent-based alarm clock

SensorWake promises to get you out of bed using pleasant smells such as coffee and croissants -- or, failing that, an alarm.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

SensorWake will either get you out of bed, or make you dream of being at the ultimate dessert buffet. SensorWake

As sleepyheads the world over know, getting out of bed can be tough, and an alarm clock can feel like the enemy. The SensorWake alarm clock, now raising funds on Kickstarter, is wagering that people would rather get roused in the morning by pleasant scents than a screeching noise, and "wake up happy."

This isn't the world's first scent-based alarm clock; for example, Oscar Mayer created one that emitted the smell of frying bacon (personally tested by Crave writer Amanda Kooser). The bacon clock used a scent spray, whereas SensorWake uses a scent pod.

At the appointed time in the morning, your chosen scent begins wafting into the air, and the makers claim it will wake you up within 2 minutes a confident 99 percent of the time. That's based on tests they ran involving "over 100 people" in a nursing home, in which the inventor says a menthol scent woke people that reliably.

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In case scents like freshly cut grass or ginger and peppermint aren't enough to get you out of bed, though, SensorWake also has a backup audible alarm.

The "100% recyclable" scent pods are supposed to work 60 times before they run out of juice and SensorWake plans to sell refills for $9 each (about £6, AU$12, ships internationally) on the SensorWake website. The site says the clock displays how many uses are left in a scent pod, along with the current time, day and date.

Early backers will have six different scent pods to choose from, including Continental Breakfast (espresso and hot croissant); Candy Rush (sweet peach and strawberry candy); and, for Kickstarter backers only -- VIP Lounge ("dollar and ebony luxury").

Even if the pods are successful in getting people out of bed, you do have to wonder if they will also get people obsessing about food all day after they've been awakened by the scent of freshly baked croissants or strawberry candy. On the other hand, maybe waking to the smell of a dollar bill will encourage slackers to get up and finally work on their resumes.

Potential contributions to the obesity epidemic and the job market aside, SensorWake was chosen as one of the 15 finalists at the 2014 Google Science Fair ("The Olfactory Awakening"), so that's a pretty good endorsement.

As of now, the early-bird SensorWakes are gone, which means you'll have to shell out €80 -- about $87, £55 or AU$115 -- to order a clock and a two-capsule scent pack. As always, with Kickstarter, you can't be sure if the project will pay off, but it has raised more than half its $50,000 budget and there are still 34 days to go in the campaign.