Reinvention of the alarm clock in the age of smartphones

The alarm clock has existed in a weird place since the advent of the smartphone — after all, why have a separate device on your nightstand for telling the time or waking you up in the morning when your phone already does that?

That hasn’t stopped companies from trying to reinvent the alarm clock for the connected era, and Circa, a new Kickstarter project from Circa Labs, seems like one of the nicer attempts at the idea.

Unlike some of the other smart alarm clocks out there, Circa doesn’t include voice controls or built-in Alexa. There is smart home integration through Triggi, which means you’ll be able to set things like having your lights or heat go on along with your alarm in the morning, but it’s a more passive system than, say, an Echo.

The smart part of Circa comes with an included sensor pad that you’re meant to put under your mattress, which Circa Labs claims will allow the alarm clock to wake you up at better times and offer insights to improve your sleep.

Like any good alarm clock, Circa has integrated speakers, with support for terrestrial HD radio, internet radio, Spotify, and regular old Bluetooth. There’s also a white noise option, for those who prefer that to music.

The screen on Circa is a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, which seems like a bit of overkill for an alarm clock, but also means that there’s less light blasting at you in the middle of the night. The display means that Circa supports multiple clock faces, too.

The biggest issue with Circa is the price, which starts at €199 (around $231), which is pretty expensive for what it does. Don’t get me wrong, I like the focus on alarm clock functions, instead of trying to cram in a half-baked integration for a virtual assistant. But given that you can get an Echo Spot for half the price, or even a full Echo Show for the same, it’s a tough sell for what it offers.

Additionally, Circa Labs is a first time company doing a hardware product through crowdfunding that it isn’t expecting to ship until June 2018 at the earliest, so the usual warnings about using your best judgement apply.

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