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An alarm that forces you to go for a run

Image credit: Regent Harriers

Spook Louw
Spook Louw Sep 02, 2021
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There have been many inventive ideas to try and force people who struggle to wake up in the morning to actually get up and not simply go back to bed.

Alarm clock apps like Mathe or Mimicker require you to use your brain to complete a challenge in order to stop the alarm clock, Ruggie only turns off when you've placed both feet on the electronic rug and Clocky starts running away from you as soon as it goes off, making you get up to go turn it off.

But what if your problem isn't just waking up, what if you wake up bright and early, but then spend most of the morning lying in bed or scrolling through your phone?

My idea is to have an alarm clock paired with a fitness tracker. The alarm will sporadically go off in decreasing increments of time until you travel a certain distance/your heart rate reaches a certain level or remains at a certain level for a set amount of time. This will force you to go for your morning run, or sit with an alarm that is constantly going off.

Of course there are some days that you might not want to go for a run, or you might feel a bit sick. To account for this, you have to set your wake up time before midnight, or switch the alarm off before midnight.

There would have to be another method of switching it off if something comes up. Perhaps you would be able to log into a website, enter your account details, and switch it off like that. It would have to be too much effort to simply do because you're still sleepy and don't want to go for a run.

Ideally, it would be a physical alarm clock, rather than an app, because you wouldn't want to have an alarm constantly going off if you take your phone with you on a run.

I also realize that this would not be ideal if you live with someone who would not join on your run, as they'd be stuck at home with an alarm constantly going off until you have completed your quota, but people with different sleeping schedules have always been a problem and there are ways around that.
Creative contributions

Running unlocks the phone instead of turning off the alarm

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Sep 09, 2021
First of all, great idea! It could totally work.

@Povilas raised a good point in his contribution. If you keep the alarm at home, it may drive the other occupants crazy since all of you do not get up at the same time. If you take the alarm with you, you disturb other people who are there for some peacetime. There are jogging parks where people meditate, perform yoga, etc. which need some quiet. A person running with their alarms ringing will be frowned upon.

Alternatively, what if the same input (increased heart rate) that turns off the alarm is used to unlock the phone? This eliminates the problem of keeping the alarm at home and not knowing whether it is turned off. It also does not disturb the other people on the road, parks, etc.

If you are worried about emergencies, the user, before running, could be allowed to make calls or send an emergency message (this usually has a hotkey) to their specified contacts. All the other apps (social media, games, news, etc.) remain locked until you achieve the threshold heart rate.

Another advantage of this is you stay away from social media until you take care of your health (this sends a good message; something similar can be the tagline of the app :) ). Also, it does not need additional hardware.

The user cannot simply wake up and start running. They will have to perform a few activities like brushing their teeth, using the washroom, having a glass of water or some food, change clothes, wear shoes, which will take 15-20 minutes. Also, when the user starts running, it will take another 5 minutes to achieve the desired heart rate. The alarm will be continuously on for at least 20 minutes, which will drain the battery, too.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw2 years ago
In my original idea, the alarm would not be continuously ringing. I proposed having it go off in decreasing increments of time. So, your alarm goes off at 6 AM, then at 07:00, 07:30, 07:15, 07:10 and so on. The idea would be to give you about an hour and a half to get ready and start your run before the alarm becomes really annoying.
I like your approach better though, the only problem with not allowing someone access to their phone is that it might be extremely annoying if you have to do something urgently in the morning before you go for a run. Perhaps, instead of unlocking the phone, going for a run will unlock certain apps. Social media and games, for instance. This way, if you decide not to go for a run, you simply won't have access to these apps.
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An app that keeps your phone locked for sometime after you wake up

Michaela D
Michaela D Sep 28, 2021
Mainly inspired by @Shubhankar Kulkarni. This app would unlock the phone after you do a certain activity (running, indoor exercising) or just a specific amount of time after you wake up. The user would decide the requirements.

Although there are a plethora of "stay-focused" apps, I have not found one that locks your phone automatically in the morning (correct me if I'm wrong). This is for people who want to avoid checking their social media, email, or news first thing in the morning - but cannot help it!
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Spook Louw
Spook Louwa year ago
I think I've seen certain phones that allow you to lock selected apps at certain times of day, but I definitely haven't seen anything connected to the alarm. This could be a nice way around the problem of irritating others with your alarm, but it does not quite prevent you from simply going back to sleep. At least you'd still have to perform the action when you wake up, even if it's not on time.
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Maybe taking a ringing alarm clock with you is exactly to the point

Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 08, 2021
From what you wrote in the idea description, I understand that the user would go for a run to turn the alarm clock off, but the alarm clock itself would be left at home so that when that person returns after jogging, they'd find the alarm switched off remotely?

At first, I thought that the idea is to force the user to take the ringing alarm clock with them in order to turn it off and I think that might be a better option. First, if you left the alarm clock at home, you wouldn't be sure if and when it got turned off. Unless, of course, you'd receive a notification on your smartphone (or better smartwatch) confirming that. But I think it’s just more cool if the person took the ringing device with them – it adds additional awkwardness and adrenaline to the experience, the people around would hear your alarm ringing and pay attention, the social anxiety because of that will contribute to the sobering effect and force you to run faster, it adds an element of a self-mocking type of fun.

This would also remove the problem for flat/roommates who are still sleeping (well at least they could sleep after you left the house). In order to force the user to take the alarm clock with them, the software could be built in a way that ensures that the user would not be able to know or guess when the alarm clock will be turned off. This could be done, for example, by slightly modifying the value of physiological parameters that have to be reached to turn the device off on separate days – one day you’d have to run fast for a short time while another jog for a longer time, etc.).
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An alarm that forces you to take your medication

Spook Louw
Spook Louw Feb 01, 2022
Based on exactly the same principle, the idea is to combine a time/date stamped pill dispenser with an alarm that does not turn off until the pill compartment is opened.
  • Simply to make sure people don't forget to take their medication.
How it works
The alarm is set for when the person is meant to take medication. At that time, the alarm goes off and the ringing can only be stopped by opening the correct pill compartment. That way, in order to stop the sound, the person will have to go all the way to the dispenser and open the compartment, at which point they won't forget to take their pills.
This is simply an interesting variation of the original idea that targets a different market.
I found the E-Pill dispenser which can show you when the last time was you opened the compartment, which is a nice way of reminding people whether or not they have taken their medication, but I don't think it really helps reminding people to take their medication. If you forget you will only realize your mistake later.
I also found Med-minder which has loads of really cool features like locking all the other compartments except for the appropriate one, calling you or your relatives if medication has not been taken, doubling as a digital picture frame and giving weather updates. It does notify users that it is time to take their medication with flashing lights and a sound, but not quite as persistent as what I am suggesting.
I think my idea could be an added safety feature to some of these existing products.
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It may be more effective to incorporate other people into the alarm

Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello Sep 09, 2021
I think a human will have a better chance of convincing a person to wake up for a run than any alarm system will have. Instead of an alarm system, there can be an app that schedules a video call for any two people who want to wake up around the same time. When one person decides that they do not want to go for a run anymore, the other person can try to convince them for a few minutes. Usually, the thought of disappointing one's partner is enough to make one get up and run.

Another approach is to have a small number of people on video calls at the same time where the user will see other people who want to run as they prepare to go out. The alarm will go off like a call that does not end till the user answers it. The option of toggling the call between video and audio modes will be available to protect the user's privacy. The other users can try to encourage the user to go for a run or simply prepare to run and go out. The idea here is to use peer pressure as a source of motivation.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw2 years ago
I don't know, in that case, you might as well just join a running club or organize meeting or calling a friend. The one thing I want to do less than go for a run in the morning is to try and convince a stranger to go for a run.
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Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello2 years ago
Spook Louw Then I guess people like me would be the ones encouraging people like you most of the time on such an app .😄
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Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello2 years ago
The idea is like an alarm and a call. Clubs are generally restricted by geolocation and they usually have well organized running plans. From what I suggested, as long as there are people who want to run at the time you want to run, you can motivate each other. Since the user will get to set their "running alarms" before they sleep, they can do it on any day without having to abide by a club schedule or bear the responsibilities of being a club member. Also, organizing a meeting for random people who want to run at the same time is something an app will do better than a human or group of humans.
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