Shake Me, I'm Dreaming...

You have to give credit to a company that markets its product as "evil" -- especially when the description is exactly right. It's hard to think of a better way to explain the Wake N Shake, an alarm clock app that forces users to, well, shake themselves awake. There is no snooze button, no way to lower the volume.

As the website explains, "There is no mercy. The only way to shut off is by shaking the hell out of your iPhone."

Now you don't even need an iPhone. The app is also available for Android, so you can shake away with an even broader assortment of smartphones.

What is interesting about the app from a big-data perspective is that it turns waking up into a social activity. The app encourages users to compete with friends -- either by wake-up time or difficulty of shaking. And if that isn't enough to get you going, you can make waking up into an actual game: For instance, you can obtain 50 personal achievements for things like using the app 20 days in a row or moving to a harder level.

How's it work? The app uses what is considered one of the most important parts of a smartphone or tablet -- the accelerometer that detects the device's orientation. If you are interested in knowing more about the basic concepts behind the three-axis motion sensing from these devices, take a look at the video below.

But back to Wake N Shake... The app uses the accelerometer, and then allows users to set the difficulty level of the shaking required to turn the alarm off. A red bar moves along the screen to show how much more shaking is required to shut it off, from next to nothing to vigorous shaking -- enough to literally shake you awake.

So what kind of data are you shaking loose at the same time by using the app? The app offers users the ability to log in with Facebook and compete with friends. According to the Wake N Shake Privacy Policy, the company will not "analyze any of your Facebook data or look at any private information."

The only use of your Facebook’s data is done in the server to pair you with other friends using Wake N Shake. Wake N Shake also uses your first name and profile picture and displays it in the “Alarms Feed” or “Daily Feed” so you can identify yourself and your friends. Wake N Shake also will look at usage statistics. These are tools provided by Facebook, and it's an anonymous, aggregated set of statistics that do not identify any one individual use case. Wake N Shake uses these to improve the product.

But there is more. If you give Wake N Shake access to your Facebook data, it will publish your activities to your newsfeed, ticker, and timeline. That includes the times your alarm goes off, shake points you earn, and the shake intensity, as well as information about your naps and achievements you earn by competing with friends.

The app also has an integrated system called Flurry, from a mobile analytics firm with data-based ad platforms. Flurry aggregates usage statistics within the app, including when a user opens the app, times the app is used, and level of engagement.

According to a November press release, Flurry quadrupled the number of data points it measured during the past year. Each day, the release explained:

the company measures 1.9 billion application sessions across more than 250 million unique smartphone and tablet devices. Over the last year, Flurry has doubled the number of applications using its services from 120,000 to more than 250,000. In total, more than 80,000 companies now use Flurry services across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, HTML5 and JavaME platforms.

In its privacy policy, Wake N Shake explains that it uses the Flurry data "in a way that’s completely anonymous and does not identify any one specific user or use case." It goes on to state: "We respect our users and their privacy. We have no interest in your data, have not built any system or method to access it, and have no benefit from it. In summary, we’re consumers too, and want to feel as safe using an app we love as you do."

What do you think? Would you be comfortable using the app? And if you did, would you have any interest in comparing your sleep habits to those of your friends? More importantly, who could benefit from all this sleep-related data?

Noreen Seebacher,

Noreen Seebacher, the Community Editor of Investor Uprising, has been a business journalist for more than 20 years. A New York City based writer and editor, she has worked for numerous print and online publications. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, New York’s Daily News, The Detroit News, and the Pittsburgh Press. She co-edited five newsletters for Real Estate Media’s and served as the site's technology editor.

She also championed the commercial real estate beat at The Journal News, a Gannett publication in suburban New York City, and co-founded a Website focused on personal finance. Through her own company, Stasa Media, Noreen has produced reports, whitepapers, and internal publications for a number of Fortune 500 clients. When she's not writing, editing, or Web surfing, she relaxes in an 1875 Victorian with her husband and their five kids, four formerly homeless cats, and a dog.

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Re: Accelerometers and Stubbed Toes
  • 1/18/2013 2:30:43 AM

You are welcome Louis

Accelerometers and Stubbed Toes
  • 1/17/2013 10:48:39 PM

Thank you Noreen for the video on accelerometers, some of my nerdy colleagues speak about these every now and then so it is nice to have a little better understanding of how it works.

And it appears that it ( the accelerometer ) is largely responsible for this really annoying device Wake N Shake.  While it might work for some, this would just make a morning grumpy person ( me ) more grumpy. 

I would rather stub my toe going across my apartment to turn off that third alarm than to put myself through this annoying torture. : )

Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/10/2013 11:05:26 PM

The power button will not work when the alarm is active! And you can't remove the battery on an iPhone

Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/10/2013 10:27:07 PM

A with Noreeen we see the true evil potential here, like setting your friends phone to go off on in a movie. I suspect that in end, there is always the power button. 

Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/10/2013 3:07:00 PM

That's evil! But had to have been funny.  I made the mistake of showing this blog and the Wake N Shake alarm site to my husband last evening. He played with that and all sorts of obnoxious wake-up apps the rest of the night, and he says he's now using Wake N Shake in the morning. I got up before him today, so not sure if it's true. He'd previously been using some stupid duck-quacking alarm that I hated. But it'll pale in comparison to Wake N Shake. And I can tell you this -- no way I'd ever entertain the thought of loading it myself and sharing time-to-wake data. That, to me, is totally lame.

Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/10/2013 12:08:57 PM

I put it on a friend's phone and set it to go off on a commuter train. that was entertaining!

Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/10/2013 11:09:14 AM

Fortunately, I don't have to wake and any particular time, and maybe fortunately I automatically wake up very early naturally. But, wake and shake might be used for other things, an alarm for important things to do, a curiosity to show co-workers, a practical joke machince, and who knows what else the program might be useful for.

More annoying things...
  • 1/10/2013 9:02:53 AM

Try this:


Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/9/2013 9:32:22 PM

Yeah, this is out for married couples.  Unless you both need to up at the same time.  Reminds me of 'the sound box'  where, as a prank you lock an alarm in a tool box and then lay it on someones doorstep.  Evil.  Yes. 

Re: Remember McDonald's?
  • 1/9/2013 7:34:48 PM

@ Beth, true and I see a few broken phones in the future. 

I might need something like this as I wake up in stages.  I'm not grumpy, but wander around like a zombie from room to room for a while. 

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