7½ and Weekend Alarm: Designing Alarm Clocks for the Morality of Sleep and Rest

Anne Spaa, Ron Wakkary, Joep Frens, Abigail Durrant, John Vines

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Although clocks facilitate good time-management, they have been used in ways that are detrimental to wellbeing. For example, alarm clocks are used to force a person to wake before they have had sufficient sleep and the ambient presence of clocks encourages a constant and sometimes unnecessary need for punctuality.

In this paper, we discuss two alarm clocks that are designed to respect wellbeing, improving the ethics of user-object and designer-object relationships. ‘7½’ runs for exactly seven-and-a-half hours, regardless of when it was started, allowing a healthy amount of sleep. ‘Weekend Alarm’ hides its clock face over the weekend, when keeping to time may be less important. The clock designs were purposeful but did not always fit with conventional expectations on functionality. We discuss the process of designing these artefacts for the morality of sleep and rest, and how we came to propose the addition of some unconventional functions to their conventional designs. To inform our reflection on our design approach, we evaluated the devices with two types of participants: two temporary owners, who experienced discomfort but were able to cope with 7½ during the three-week trial, and six design experts who provided critical reviews of both designs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
EventFourth Biennial Research Through Design Conference: Method & Critique: Frictions and Shifts in RTD - Delft, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 19 Mar 201922 Mar 2019


ConferenceFourth Biennial Research Through Design Conference
Abbreviated titleRTD 2019
CityDelft, Rotterdam
Internet address


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