Anyone seen one of these....

story about new hotel alarm clocks.

This version of the story has photos of one of the designs.

I have a hard time believing usability professionals were involved in designing the clock in those photos. MP3 support?! After just blasting clock radios? C’mon!

PS, I’m still looking for a good clock radio

certainly doesn’t look simple to me. and how many people need to plug in an mp3 player? featuritis imo. reminds me of the Swiss Army knife - does lots of stuff but does nothing really well. someone should listen to this guy: “For me the clock is all about waking up.” kinda at the top of my list when traveling. screw the rest.

Here’s some more featuritis: if you look at the pic, it says that you need to assign a preset station to your alarm. That means you need to figure out how to do that before you can even go about setting the alarm! Who needs preset stations on a hotel clock?! It looks like that design has chosen to devote most of it’s control space to 5 big preset buttons.

This is what they should build:

  1. Clock face has both analog and digital readouts, clearly visible in the dark and from a distance without your glasses.

  2. Time-set buttons are hidden–ideally only the hotel staff needs to do this, but they’re there for you if you need them.

  3. Alarm Set:
    a) Separarate Alarm Hour and Minute Up/Down buttons and/or dial. Default to 6 AM. Eliminate AM/PM toggle–this choice is made when setting the hour, and naturally defaults to the AM.
    b) Default to ALARM ON as soon as the user touches the alarm time controls. Provide clear indicator and toggle.
    c) TURN LIGHTS ON toggle. Besides the possibility of being a deaf customer, waking with the room lights would be a nice idea.
    d) Alarm Volume: there is no way to turn the volume down to inaudible levels–Ideally there is a minimum that is just low enough to wake up the person sleeping next to it, but not disturb anyone else. Human factors research can determine this.
    e) The clock offers to read back you settings in your language of choice, just to give you peace of mind that it understands what you told it to do.

  4. Include a hotel-branded audio CD (like the ‘W’ chain does.) If a CD is in the player, the clock will use it to wake you up. If there is no CD in the player, the clock will beep. That’s it. Forget radio stations–you’re in a strange city anyway right? Plus do you really want to risk hearing static or nothing when it’s supposed to wake you up?

  5. Snooze button: When I hit it, I want the clock to verbally tell me how many more minutes it’s going to give me.

Truly. It is the Brookstone School at work.

Brookstone School = A personal saying of mine, pertaining to the mall store Brookstone. A philosophy that regularly asks the question of mundane objects, “But why doesn’t it have a clock/thermometer/radio/humidity sensor/LED Flashlight in or on it?” or “Wouldn’t it be better if it talked…in 11 Languages?” This principle creates forced chimeric juxtapositions of several tools to create one tool that does nothing well. Also know as (as you put it) the Swiss Army Effect, or Sharper Imagineering. I hate Brookstone and Sharper Image. I used to assert that buying a present from them for someone was the second easiest way to simultaneously say “I hate you” and “I hate shopping” without talking. The first would be a punch in the face to the prospective gift recipient.

Really, you’d think as a species that if we can put a person on the moon, we can make an alarm clock that you don’t need an instruction novella or a double-jointed thumb to set. For example, it would be novel to see one with a set of three up/down buttons. Hours, tens, singles. This would make it unnecessary to hit the minute button a maximum of 30 times (or lacking a “down” key, 59 times). Just a thought.

They have another innovative way to listen to mp3s in bed. They are called headphones.

analogue - I heartily second your Brookstone/Sharper Image critique.

Some asshole “designer” put the light and alarm on/off buttons, on the same button, on the Sound Soother White Noise Generator alarm clock I received as a present a few years ago.

So what happens when you try to look at the time in the small hours of the morning, in the dark? You turn off the alarm. And oversleep and miss your meeting. All because of some loser designer someplace. At least I knew it was 72 degrees when I woke up.

I agree that the clock is ridiculous, but it clearly says “skip this step to wake to buzzer” (so you don’t have to select a station).

You are truly the devil’s advocate. Alan Cooper would call you a technology “apologist.” Just read the instructions they say…

I stayed in a Hampton Inn earlier this year, and was quite impressed.