The Smile Clock app requires a beaming smile to turn off a wake-up alarm. The Smile Clock app requires a beaming smile to turn off a wake-up alarm. The developers behind the Smile Clock alarm app want users to start the day with beaming smiles, not groggy grimaces. (Photo: Smile Clock)

Smile, says alarm clock app!

Instead of a traditional off button, Smile Clock's alarm can only be silenced by a happy grin.

How would you describe the expression on your face when your smartphone’s alarm begins to buzz, beep and vibrate at 6:30 a.m.?

A pained, half-asleep grimace? A bewildered look of annoyance and fear? A dazed stare that doesn’t disappear until you’ve guzzled that second cup of coffee?

Hanan Rofe Haim, the developer of the Smile Clock alarm app for Android, thinks we should all greet the day on an upbeat and enthusiastic note even if that means forcing out a big, dorky smile when all you want to do is pout, roll over and go back to sleep.

Using facial recognition technology, the Smile Clock’s alarm will only fall silent when it sees that you’re beaming from cheek to cheek. The app doesn’t feature a traditional “off” button – a bright, beautiful grin is the off button. (Mercifully, there is a snooze button).

Haim, a computer science student at Tel Aviv University who launched the app earlier this year with his brother Omer as head of marketing, realizes that we all need a little assistance in the morning – something truly special to smile at. When your device's wake-up alarm sounds, the app displays a pre-selected image that’s sure to guarantee a grin: a photo of a tropical beach, a steaming latte, a basketful of kittens, a real or imagined beau smiling back at you … whatever has enough happy-making potency.

"The inspiration behind smile clock came from an article my brother and I came across about the benefits of a smile," Hanan Rofe Haim told From The Grapevine. "One of the facts in the article was that a fake smile has the same effect as a real one. This fact led us to think of how [to] make people start their day with a smile, and what it could do to their lives."

In addition to the grin-inducing custom images, the app also allows users to pick previously downloaded wake-up songs/alarm tones of their liking, be it the Beatles' "Good Morning, Good Morning," a track from AC/DC's "Back in Black" or a generic alarm clock ring. Whatever rouses you.

The Smile Clock app requires a beaming smile to turn off a wake-up alarm.What image would prompt you to break into a smile as you face the grim reality that you have to get out of bed? (Photo: Smile Clock)

“Like most people, it's not easy for me to wake up in the morning,” explains Haim. ”That's one of the reasons we developed Smile Clock – the extra features can make your morning more enjoyable.”

While the recently launched app, available now on Google Play, is in the process of being tweaked and refined based on user feedback (a new feature is a Smile store where users can purchase joyful background imagery), there's one quirk that hasn’t been resolved quite yet: beards. The app’s facial recognition technology has difficulty recognizing smiles of the bearded variety. However, Haim said he’s working to resolve the issue and that the next version of the app will be able to better recognize smiles from both hirsute and clean-shaven users.

A version of the Smile Clock app for iOS devices is also in the works.

So what gets Haim merrily out of bed in the morning? What grin-worthy images does the developer of an app that's all about promoting smiles have saved on his alarm?

“There are some pictures I would prefer not to share, if you know what I mean,” he said. “I can say I have a picture of my dog, a funny pug, which always make me smile.”


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