SAN FRANCISCO--When I first set out to build a better wake-up machine 18 months ago, it did not once occur to me to connect the mini blinds on our bedroom window to the Internet. I want to be very clear about this: I'm not one of those wacko Webcam exhibitionists. My wife and I like our privacy, and those thin pecan strips are all that shield us from the cars and electric buses that creep past the other side of that window day and night. It's just that somewhere along the tortuous path of invention, putting the blinds online seemed the most feasible and elegant way to solve my problem. And now it wouldn't surprise me if one day the drapes in your house--along with the security system and the heat pump and various other appliances--are plugged into the Net, too. You might be surprised at how little technical expertise is needed to create the connecting electronics and software.
For me, the whole thing started with a simple motivation: hate. I hate alarm clocks. My theory is that over millions of years, evolution has hardwired the human nervous system to rouse in two ways. There is the gradual stirring in response to the warming pink glow of sunlight on the eyelids. And there is the startled jolt of adrenaline in response to the roar of a leopard--or the wail of an alarm. That may not be scientific fact, but that is how it feels to me. Besides, researchers in Siberia reported recently that the circadian hormone cycles of experimental subjects who awoke in darkened rooms tended to shift a little later each day. But subjects rising to a simulated dawn held comfortably to a 24-hour cycle.
This article was originally published with the title Bringing the Net to the Bedroom.