New day for lowly alarm clocks dawning
We hate them, can’t live without them. But their day may have come.Like doorbells and toasters, alarm clocks are a perfect example of ubiquitous dumb technology — a singular purpose executed with precision every day.Alarm clocks are waking up to a new digital day of excitement, as electronics innovators think up way of souping up the sleepytime sentinal with images, music and video.“That new piece of technology has allowed something as mundane as the alarm clock business to enjoy new growth,” said Pierre Schaeffer, chief marketing officer of Kodaks Consumer Digital Imaging Group. Several vendors at CES displayed alarm clocks that did a lot more than buzz, including Kodak, which introduced a wireless digital picture frame that could someday rest on a night table and roust one with a picture of, say, one’s mom, mouthing “GET UP”, or an image of a sunrise the next day, each tuned to U2’s hit “Beautiful Day.”The digital display may also someday receive news and weather information to help start the day.”On the alarm clock, the first thing you see when you open your eyes — you can be greeted by your pictures… an RSS feed of your news, or other kinds of functionality,” Schaeffer said at a press event this week.Apple’s iPod looms large in the digital alarm clock market. CES crowds saw everything from tiny travel alarm clocks, like Royal’s which has a 1.4 inch screen and hold 59 pictures, to RCA’s iPod Dock Clock Radio. There was also the iBlaster Clock Radio, which serves as a complete docking station for the iPod, and keeps the iPod fully charged.The boost could not come at a better time. U.S. sales of alarm clocks through November are down more than 20 percent to about 740,000 units, according to Thomson, an alarm clock brand.