• Experience Redesign of
    The Emerson Alarm Clock

    UX Design

Deep Dive

About the Project

The Emerson Smartset 3-Color Projection Alarm Clock (model CK53528) is an alarm clock that was designed to be easy to read from any position in your bed. The Alarm Clock also features “Emerson’s award winning and patented SmartSet technology,” eliminating the need to reset your clock if the power goes; promising the user the correct date, time, day, and year (even during Daylight Savings time). With all the features, the Alarm Clock promises that “waking up will no longer be a chore”. This project aims at redesigning the experience of the Alarm Clock by analysisng its design and usability and thus proposing design recommendations to enhance the user's eperience of using the clock.

Project Type

Academic Project


HCC 629- Fundamentals of Human Centered Computing

Team Members


My Responsibilities

User Research, Interaction Design, UI Design

Design Process

User Research:
To evaluate the design of the Alarm Clock, a mini-user-study was designed to better assess the interface and eliminate the designers’ preconceived ideals of the interface. The study consisted of a group of seven consenting participants with a variety of backgrounds, who were randomly chosen based on location. Each participant was asked a pre-determined list of questions and tasks, while they were filmed interacting with the Alarm Clock interface. Some questions that were asked during the study were: what are you holding? Can you set the alarm? What would you do to make it easier to understand? The answers to the questions and observations were then evaluated and compared to online product reviews to see if the findings from the study were in-line with what other users were experiencing.

Design Analysis based on Don Norman's Design Principles:

● Visibility- the Alarm Clock had a very large “Snooze” button, a large main screen that quickly caught the user’s eye, and a projector that displayed the time on the cealing or wall. This allowed the user the ability to see the time from any position in bed, and easily hit “snooze.”
● Feedback- the Alarm Clock provided abrupt visible feedback, and a click, to the user on the screen when a button was pressed. There is also a small indicator light on the screen to commuicate to the user when the alarm is on.
● Consistency- other alarm clocks require the user to press and hold the alarm button while simultaneously pressing another button to set an alarm, which provides consistency so the user does not have to learn a new way to set the alarm.
● Visceral Design- the projector is a feature not common on most alarm clocks, which may draw in a user with a “wow factor.” The Alarm Clock has a large display and a sophisticated features.

Design Flaws:
● Visibility- there were too many buttons on the Alarm Clock which were poorly labeled and not clear about their function.
● Mapping- the button to set the alarm needs to be pressed and held while simultaneously pressing down the “Min” button to change the time of the alarm. This direction was not labeled and required the user to experiment to learn how to do this. The Alarm Clock does not allow you to set the alarm with the “Hour” button, which would have been a lot faster. Buttons like month and date did not show expected messages on the screen.

● Affordance- the Alarm Clock’s screen did not afford touching; this gives a false affordance to the contemporary user who expects the screen to be touchable consistent with modern technology. Behavioral Design- the poor performance and the hard to operate functions cause the interface to be difficult to use and require some practice. The alarm does not reliably wake up the user, which is the main purpose for using an alarm.
● Reflective Design- the frustrating design of the Alarm Clock creates bad memories of using the product and may cause the user to become angry.
● Emotional Design- the difficulty with changing the time and setting the alarm elicits anger, causing the user to look and feel stupid.

Design Enhancements:
● Eliminate the radio, as this is no longer a common used feature in an alarm clock. By eliminating this feature, the Alarm Clock would no longer need as many buttons and could be designed with better mapping and visibility.
● Switch the interface to touch screen, eliminate the buttons altogether allowing for better labeling of functions.
Ensuring reliability, use better software for SmartSet technology to make sure the alarm clock goes off and autosets to the correct time. Increase the volume of the buzzer to easily wake up the user.
● Add a wearable technology device that monitors the the body’s physiological signs such as heart rate and stages of sleep (wake, REM, light, and deep sleep) throughout the night. This will allow the Alarm Clock to wake up the user at the optimal time. In result, the user will have more energy, better health, and a positive outlook on the day.

Alarm Clock Proposed Design

Alarm Clock Design


● Learned User Research methods like Contextual Inquiry, Interviews and focus groups
● Learned how to conduct Heusristic evaluation for Usability analysis
● Learned Design Principles and their application in evaluating a physical product


● Identification of diverse user base for interviews and focus groups
● Proposing new features for the Clock to cope with the current technology trends