Microsoft’s Mimicker Alarm Brings Machine Learning to Android

Microsoft's Mimicker Alarm Brings Machine Learning to Android

Microsoft this morning unveiled a new alarm app for Android. This wouldn’t normally warrant much attention, but it includes game-like wakeup modes that are powered by machine learning technologies developed by Microsoft Project Oxford.

“Three games in Mimicker Alarm may be the secret to clearing the cobwebs of sleep to wake you up and keep you up,” Microsoft explains. “The games are also a way to show off several Microsoft Project Oxford machine learning APIs that focus on emotion, computer vision and speech.”

For the most part, Mimicker Alarm works much like other alarm apps: You set an alarm, and then choose between snoozing and waking up when the alarm fires. But when you do choose to wake up, Mimicker Alarm will then launch one of three mimic games. That’s the key to how it works, Microsoft says: By ensuring that you’re really up.

“We’re a lot nicer than other alarms,” says Microsoft Project Oxford program manager Allison Light. “You start with dismiss or snooze. If you snooze, the default is five minutes to delay the game. If you dismiss, we mute the alarm – but then you have 30 seconds to complete this challenge. And if you don’t complete that game in time, we assume you’ve fallen back asleep and then the alarm will start ringing again. You only need to complete one game to shut off the alarm. You can choose the sounds and which games you want to play.”

The three games are:

Express Yourself. Your goal here is to take a selfie that matches the emotion the game chooses.

Color Capture. Here, you take a picture of an object that matches the color presented by the game.

Tongue Twister. With this game, you repeat a phrase that requires some brain power to enunciate.

“People want to change habits, wake up better for the new year,” Light says, noting that internal tests of the app were overwhelmingly positive. “And they thought this app would be a good way to do this. They said this was much more enjoyable than having a buzzer go off every morning.”

To see it for yourself, just grab Mimicker Alarm from the Google Play Store.


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