Spark watch keeps you from napping when you’re supposed to be awake

Never get made fun of for falling asleep in econ again. 

 

Elizabeth Robinson

Tech

Published Jul 8, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 12:08 am CDT

When that afternoon lull rolls around, post-lunch, pre-happy hour, the lure of the midday snooze is strong. Unfortunately a power nap isn’t always the most appropriate activity (because, you know, jobs). The answer, however, to staying awake when you most need to could be around your wrist.

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A Cambridge, Mass.-based team of high school students has created Spark, a watch that promises to keep you awake and combat afternoon grogginess—and it’s already been successful funded on Kickstarter.

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Spark tracks a user’s movement and gently vibrates when a lack of said movement is detected. According to its Kickstarter page, the Spark crew explains that the watch will track user movement for the first 12 hours of wear in order to determine a specific users’ daily patterns. So if your day consists of long periods of sitting at a desk or in a classroom, that doesn’t mean your watch will vibrate every time you stop moving. The watch will only vibrate when it senses that you’ve dozed off.

If you actually do want to shut your eyes for a bit, Time Mode allows a user to turn off Spark’s motion sensors.

In addition, Spark-wearers can adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensors as well as the intensity of the vibrations.

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The product was conceived by Eddie Zhong, a high school student, who came up with the idea after his brother fell asleep during an important exam that would determine where he would go to college. A family emergency the night before had kept him up, and he unfortunately paid for it the next day. The incident inspired Zhong to create Blanc, the company that makes Spark.

As a student, Zhong knew he could use the watch for his own benefit as well. “I fall asleep a lot in mostly boring classes, like math,” Zhong explains. “And I see a lot of students around me who have the same problem.”

He recruited three other high school students from the Boston area to form a team dedicated to producing and promoting Spark.

In April, the product was available for pre-order, and Zhong told the Boston Business Journal that he projected earnings of $70,000 by the end of the year.

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According to the Kickstarter page, the Spark team has spent a year developing and testing the product in the Boston area. “It was imperative to us that the watch was very accurate, so we worked in conjunction with bio-medical engineers that specialize in tracking sleep patterns and motion,” the page reads. “Initial prototyping was done with the help of various electrical engineers here in Cambridge and the Spark was tested with students in many high schools around the area.”

The watches are manufactured in Taiwan, and the initial monetary goal ensured that the watches could be shipped back to the United States. The team reached their $6,000 goal within 20 hours of launching the campaign. Now, the team has added a stretch goal of $14,000, which would allow for a slimmer, sleeker version of Spark by using a thinner battery. As of now, 186 backers have donated a collective $10,565, with 27 days left in the campaign.

Photo by Timothy Krause/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jul 8, 2014, 1:56 pm CDT