Why you should care

Because waking up stinks. 

I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” uttered by Lt. Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, might be one of the most famous movie lines. And though napalm isn’t exactly the kind of smell most want to wake up to, you might just be able to soon — and without having to time travel back to Vietnam, circa 1967.

A new alarm clock, from an 18-year-old French entrepreneur and inventor, rouses sleepers not with the usual blaring audio sirens, but with smells instead. Like coffee, black vanilla, chocolate, seaside. And money. When the alarm is triggered, the SensorWake slowly diffuses your chosen fragrance into the air and will wake you within two minutes, claims creator Guillaume Rolland. (There’s a back-up audio alarm — which is a good idea, you know, in case that guarantee isn’t quite ironclad.) The scent then dissipates within five minutes. “We have sound, we have light, but nobody has used scents to wake us up,” Rolland tells OZY. He’s right. The Wake’n Bacon and CoffeeTime remain nothing more than concepts.

The scent capsules are manufactured using the same model as single-serve coffee pod machines.

The SensorWake ($124) doesn’t look like much — its plain white exterior and large black-on-white LCD digits could be mistaken for any number of alarm clock designs from the past 25 years — but what it lacks in the beauty department, it makes up for with its killer feature: a “dry diffusion system,” which meets the EU’s strict REACH regulations for indoor air quality, that gently releases the scent from a specially designed receptacle.

SensorWake

SensorWake products.

Source SensorWake

The scent capsules are manufactured by a Swiss fragrance company, Givaudan, using the same model as single-serve coffee pod machines — but with a key difference: SensorWake capsules are 100 percent recyclable and Rolland is already planning a way to let users return their spent ones. Capsules last for 60 “wakes” and will cost $9 each. The company has started with a collection of 20 scents, but plans to offer more once the device hits retail. The Kickstarter preorder period has ended, but those interested can sign up to be notified when more clocks are available.

Rolland’s first test subjects were actually senior citizens, thanks to his father’s job as the head of an old-age home in France. He claims the elderly have a hard time waking up because “they have trouble seeing and hearing.” How many dozing seniors did the SensorWake rouse? “All of them,” boasts Rolland.

But come on, waking up to a smell-o-alarm? Does it work? Not likely for those who tend to wake up congested or lack a sense of smell. Some experts are dubious about its effectiveness. Dr. Brian Wind, who is certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine, isn’t aware of any proof that waking from scent offers improved sleep or a better waking experience. He also thinks the concept “would likely be intolerable to some.”

He might be referring to me. The smell of coffee in the morning without actual coffee? Sounds like pure torture. Maybe napalm isn’t that bad after all.

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