When you smile, the whole world smiles with you, goes the old song – and to make sure you’re smiling, an Israeli team has come up with the ultimate “selfie” app. The Smile Clock is an alarm clock that you can’t turn off – unless you smile at it.
It’s not just a fun idea, according to app creator Hanan Rofe Haim. “There are a lot of scientific studies that show that you really will have a better day if you start it off by smiling – even if you have to force yourself,” Haim told The Times of Israel in an interview.
That’s exactly what you get when you download the Smile App, which Haim put together with his brother Omer, who is responsible for the business side of things. The free app has been on Google Play for about two months (an iOS version will come later), and has been downloaded about 3,500 times – a respectable number, said Haim, with most of the downloads coming in the past month after a spate of stories about it.
And who could resist at least trying it out? “Unlike other alarm clock apps, Smile Clock’s alarm can be turned off only by smiling at your phone,” said Haim, although you can use the standard snooze bar to get a few more winks in. When you smile, the app has your device’s camera take a photo of you, which is saved in a special “smile gallery” — available for use as a profile picture, Facebook upload, or other social media purposes. You can choose a picture — the app suggests choosing a funny one — as well as background music.
As a brand new app, Smile Clock is likely to have some issues. One of them is a problem detecting a smile under a heavy beard or mustache. Experiments with the app show that it works as promised – but it requires a real big smile. Similarly, it needs light to work, so early pre-sunrise risers may need to turn on a lamp.
This is the Haim brothers’ first foray as independent developers, but they’re both veterans of the app business. Hanan is finishing up his studies in computer science at Tel Aviv University. He and his brother were key members of a company called Appfro that developed MySitter, a Hebrew-language app that lets parents get in touch with babysitters in Israel. Babysitters register with the MySitter database and submit their hours of availability, geographic area, payment expectations, and conditions. Users can book directly through the app (Appfro takes a small fee for the service) and leave a review afterwards.
Why Smile Clock? “For me, it’s a matter of developing a better approach to life,” said Haim. “Obviously it’s not natural for most people to wake up and smile first thing in the morning, but there are many scientific studies that show that if you make yourself smile, you will feel better, regardless of your situation. Smiling has a lot of other benefits as well, such as relieving stress, making people more attractive, and even boosting the immune system. If we can help people live a better life by getting them to smile a little, why not?”