Retro Futuristic Alarm Clock Progress

GUI (Graphical User Interface)

I have begun working on how the user will interface with the alarm clock. I believe the way the screen appears and how it is interacted with is critical to the aesthetic of this project. In the cassette futurism aesthetic, the only way people interface with computers with the terminal. Although this is restrictive, there is room for creativity. I have been developing an alarm sequence which is a basic Python script which will output text to the terminal in sequences. I am using “cool-retro-term” [1] to create a retro look for the terminal. This process is still in the early stages and the end result will be a startup sequence displaying a sequence of different text accompanied by various sci-fi sounds I am also developing.

The sequence will include flashing text in ASCII art, scrolling text, and text in various colors. This will help create an attention-grabbing alarm that also fits the aesthetic. The cassette futurism approach to computers is antiquated and messy. Having very raw terminal outputs with low-level processes (think binary strings of text) will help tie this sequence to the aesthetic. All of these processes are made-up but I would like to put effort in to grounding them in the world and making them ,mesh well together,. which from the screencaps below you can see they currently do not. This will take time to carefully go through and edit the text being displayed and possibly write scripts to automate what is being displayed. There is a lot of room for creativity and I plan to use the open-endedness of this alarm design to put world-building aspects in to my project.

Screen Capture 1

Screen Capture 2

Screen Capture 3

Alarm Sound Design

The sound design is in the early stages as well. This is because I am creating it from scratch and in the process of collecting different sound samples. These will be timed alongside the visuals on the terminal by using the same python script to output the sounds. Some of these sounds will include distinct keyboard clicks as text is outputted, alarms at varying frequencies, and very “punchy” sounding computer sounds reminiscent of the computers from the 60s and 70s. I am using this scene from the movie Alien as my reference.

Alien 1979 Computer Scene [2]

This may raise the question, why go through all this work when I could use  a simple alarm sound? It is because I have eventually slept through every alarm I have ever used and I am trying to craft the most perfectly annoying alarm to wake myself up. Flashing lights and various alarm sounds both accomplishes this task and meets my aesthetic.


Instead of delivering a physical hardware device, I am hoping to deliver an audio-visual sample along with renders of the final body. I will produced the initial model in SOLIDWORKS and then import the model in to Blender to create high-resolution renders with lighting and environment. I am moving away from creating the physical device in order to fully focus on the aesthetics of the project and to create a plan to then further develop the project. No further progress has been made on the renders due to my focus on the GUI but this will be my next step after I solidify what I am doing for the audio and visuals. I plan to include the GUI on the screen in my render with realistic lighting which is why I worked on it first.

Deliverable and Plans

In order of importance, this is what I am hoping to deliver:

  1. High resolution renders with all components included
  2. Alarm sequence with audio and visual display
  3. Manufacture and assemble device
  4. Program user interface for navigation menu and accessing settings

My main priorities are objectives 1 & 2, with both of these being necessary to convey the aesthetic of the project. I will produce a poster that displays the renders, stills of the GUI, and theme the poster after the aesthetic. I will also produce a video of the startup sequence including video and sound.


[1] –


[2] –

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Grady Forsyth
    April 23, 2023 6:34 pm

    Hi Nic,

    Really enjoyed reading about your progress since the design preview. I especially love how you’re putting focus on aspects such as sound design. This will make for an amazing product. Excited to see how your renders from blender turn out!

  • I like the output screens. That is definitely a nice touch when it comes to the retro-futuristic look. I think making the time out of numbers. So if its 8:37, the 8 is made out of 8s, the 3 is made out 3s, and the 7 is made out of 7s.


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