Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Disconnected Bedroom

A long time ago I banished most electronics from my bedroom as a way of getting a good night's sleep. There's no TV there (what started out as no TV in the bedroom ended up as no TV at all), there are no computers and no cell phones. There is a hard telephone line that only a very few people know the number for (the sort of people who would hide me) and if it rings I want to be woken up.

The dearth of pixels also means a dearth of backlit screens and the disruption caused by their light that confuses the body into thinking it's day time. The lack of connected devices also means that I'm not tempted to just check my email one more time (or check it in the middle of the night) and since my phone has a calendar and other functionality in it there are all sorts of alerts that could wake me up. The phone is sent away to another room for the night to recharge in silent mode. There's no computer so that I don't work in the same place I sleep and therefore delay going to bed.

But there is one recent electronic device: my Amazon Kindle.

The Kindle makes the grade for three reasons: it won't ever alert me to anything (and the day Amazon adds some sort of alerting that I can't reliably disable it gets banished also), it is not backlit (I can read it in bed just as I would a book and as my eyes start to droop there's no bright light to keep me awake) and there's no colour (the lack of bright colour prevents reading from being an exciting experience that might keep me awake: any excitement has to come from the words).

I wake up using an alarm clock that is electronic but it has just one function: waking me up.

I would allow my cell phone back into the bedroom (to use it as a clock and alarm clock) if, alongside "airplane mode", it had "bedroom mode".

Bedroom Mode would disable all data connectivity and dropping out of Bedroom Mode would require me to wait 10 minutes (a sort of time lock that prevents me from checking my mail or Twitter in the middle of the night). Bedroom Mode would also completely silence the phone (no alerts, no vibration, no waking up the screen when an SMS arrives). And finally Bedroom Mode would allow a small number of selected phone numbers to get through to me in an emergency.

Anyone want to write a Bedroom Mode app for Android (I doubt it's possible on iPhone because of restrictions on what an app can do)? I might even switch phones for that.


Simon Proctor said...

Have you looked at Locale? It allows you to set a number of conditions and actions to take in these conditions.
I have it set so that between 11pm and 7am the phone goes silent but it has a variety of things is can do.

Colin said...

Without explicitly checking all the things you list, it sounds like Locale would do the job: http://www.twofortyfouram.com/

Spode said...

I found an eye mask and ear plugs helped. That way I don't get woken up by the cat, or my house mate either :)

John Reese said...

Locale, as mentioned above, is what I use to accomplish exactly what you want. I use my phone as an alarm, and Locale automatically puts my phone into total silence. With a couple extra plugins from the market, it could also turn off your wifi and data connection too, while still allowing you to receive calls from a small set of important people.

I have a further write-up on my blog at http://noswap.com/blog/locale/


John Graham-Cumming said...

Does anyone know if there's anything like Locale for the iPhone? I'm guessing the answer is no, and so I'm guessing the answer to "Am I going to upgrade my iPhone 3G to an iPhone 5 is... Android".

David said...

Bedroom mode should also make the screen orange, to block the blue wavelengths that tend to wake people up when sensed by the eye. Basically, use mostly the reddish colors when turned on after sunset.

Ming Liu said...

Awesome idea! It looks like a great side project that I can work on. I'll let you know when it's done :D

Gabor said...

I have also been looking for electronics that have no lights for the bedroom. I did find http://www.lightdims.com which has stickers to put over the lights.

Also the Tecsun PL-660 AM/FM/SW radio (available from Amazon and ebay) has 3 settings for the backlight: On, Off and a Smart setting. (With the Smart setting its normally off but it turns on for a few seconds when you use the controls.) Its the Off setting that you really want since there are truly no lights when set to Off. I have found that most other radios really have only On and and a Smart setting but no true Off or else they have lights in addition to the backlight so even if you can turn the backlight off then the other lights are still on. The PL-660 has no other lights at all so if you set the backlight to Off there are truly no lights at all.

C. Crane will remove the lights on their CC Wifi internet radio for a service fee (although there is still a light on the wall wart that plugs into the outlet but at least that can be put behind something).

Sivan M. said...

BlackBerrys come with a beautifully implemented bedside mode. You put it in the charging cradle, it switches to an analog clock, dimms the screen and silences all notifications except your alarm. It's also configurable.

Tara Maya said...

I used to have a huge stack of books by my bed. Now my room looks much neater with just a kindle. There is no tv, no computer. But I do sometimes sneak in my laptop to watch netflix with headphones.

Tara Maya
Faerie Tale (The Unfinished Song)

Mr. Brown said...

John: Tasker is another Android app that is really powerful and can allow you to change things based on a variety of conditions. I prerfer it over Locale based on what Locale was like when it first came out but it has been quite a while since I've used it.

David: I know if you root your Android phone and run Cyanogen mod, there is an included app called "RenderFX" that gives you the option to make the screen different colors including a "red mode" that sounds like it will do exactly what you're looking for.