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Wake Up Your Senses With This Olfactory Alarm Clock

Why would you hit snooze when the smell of bacon is wafting towards your pillow?

SensorWake

Remember waking up as a kid to the smell of pancakes sizzling on the griddle, or drenched in warm maple syrup? What if you could recapture that magical sensory experience as an adult—you know, without having to cook for yourself?

In the process, you could spare yourself some expletive-laden tirades in response to the shrieking alarm that you’re tempted to smash with Hulk-like strength.

The new SensorWake alarm clock claims to gently shake you from your slumber by emitting enticing odors instead of blaring beeps or a tune that you’ll quickly come to bitterly resent. The scents include the usual suspects associated with cloying candles or body lotion: peaches, cut grass, the ocean. But it’s the more surprising offerings, including bacon and hot croissants, that will likely have people hopping out of bed. (There’s also the smell of money, for those who harbor Scrooge McDuck fantasies.)

Pop a cartridge into the machine, and a fan will circulate the scent at the time you’ve set. Each cartridge is good for 60 uses. Empty capsules can be recycled (and they’re VOC-free).

The 18-year-old inventor, Guillaume Rolland, showed off his creation at Google’s 2014 Science Fair, where it placed in the top 15. Kickstarter pledges nearly tripled the stated goal.

Will this alarm clock work? That’s hard to say. A 2004 Brown University study examined the relationship between smell and sleep to analyze people’s responses to odors associated with fire. The conclusion: While sound can disrupt sleep, scents cannot. Wrote study author Rachel S. Herz, “Human olfaction appears insufficiently sensitive and reliable to act as a sentinel system.”

SensorWake performed its own studies, PSFK reports, which showed a higher success rate among nursing home patients. In pilot testing, SensorWake notes, the olfactory alarm nudged 99 percent of subjects into wakefulness within two minutes. According to the brand’s Kickstarter page:

SensorWake might sound like a device, but we like to think it’s more. It’s about making your mornings peaceful and happy, and your days smoother and easier to conquer.

Even if this wacky gadget doesn’t rouse you from slumber, it might still be nice to set your trusty alarm and wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee—even if you grab yours from the bodega down the block.

Alarm clock, 109€ (around $119) for clock and 2 capsules, at SensorWake. (Available November 2015.)

About the Author

  • Jessica Leigh Hester
    Jessica Leigh Hester is a senior associate editor at CityLab. She writes about culture, sustainability, and green spaces, and lives in Brooklyn.