Generally we seem content to be rudely shocked out of sleep, with alarms that blare at us and beep violently, rendering continued sleep impossible. New Android app Warmly, from the Seattle-based Chaos Collective, thinks it might be better if an app wakes you up with gradually mounting sounds that not only aren't alien and frightening, but are actually comforting and familiar.
It's a project that's characteristic of what The Chaos Collective hopes to achieve, according to co-founder Adam Kumpf, who I spoke to about the new project. We've previously covered another project of the Seattle-based group, the depth-of-field camera hack that mimics the effects of the Lytro using any camera with manually adjustable focus. Kumpf says that both Warmly and that camera hack fit a loose product strategy that The Chaos Collective takes as its guiding light.
“The Chaos Collective is about working on projects that excite us and sharing that excitement with the world,” he said. “Admittedly, it's a pretty unconventional business plan, but we believe that working on things we love is the best way to create things that aren't just clutter. The world is a huge place, but the Internet bring us all together; we hope that the passion we have for each project, hack and experiment translates into others loving them, too.”
Warmly is something that has come from experimenting with concepts and technical elements that the team was interested in. And in many ways, it's about giving them something to help them kickstart their own creative efforts, in a way that's generative of more interesting results, since a good start is as important as anything to a good finish.
“Warmly is a product that has grown out of much experimentation,” Kumpf explains. “We've worked on a lot of collaborative, real-time systems, but have come to realize that getting started can be as much of a barrier to productivity as the tools you use. So we started looking into alarm clocks and had many of the same criticisms.”
The concept behind Warmly is that pleasing sounds are just as effective at waking you up as unpleasant ones, and the Collective played around with a few different sound combinations before coming up with the ones that are built into the app, including things like the sounds of breakfast being cooked. The app went from experiment to shipping product based on its success with beta testers and Collective members, Kumpf says, which is how all products make their way through the company's pipeline.
The Warmly app costs $1.99, which Kumpf says they believe is justified, since “if it's not worth the price of a cup of coffee, [they] aren't doing their jobs.” He says that while the Collective's general preference is to embrace open source as much as possible, at some point, projects must become products in order to generate revenue and fuel further efforts. While Warmly is debuting on Android, owing to its generally more positive attitude toward experimentation, an iOS version is definitely in the queue if reaction is positive enough.