By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer
The alarm clock has changed dramatically over the years, evolving from the chunky mantlepiece devices of the 1870s through to clock radios, vibrating alarms and sunrise lights. Yet somewhere along the way, simplicity and usability have arguably been lost.
But in the fight to be noticed, today’s alarm clocks often come with an array of add-on features, some of which you don’t want or even need.
Which begs the question. What do people need from an alarm clock? For Brandstand, a Texas-based company that makes innovatively designed, user-friendly products for the hospitality industry, the answer revolved around power and charging. It led to the development of the Brandstand CubieTime, a hotel alarm clock that features twin power outlets and USB charging points.
- The history of the alarm clock
- More than just an alarm clock
- Discover Brandstand power and charging products
“CubieTime was the culmination of many ideas and preconceptions our team had regarding power products and clock radio interfaces,” says Staci Mininger, VP and Principal Industrial Designer at Brandstand.
Was the time up for the clock radio?
“As industrial designers, we focused on rethinking the alarm clock radio. We took a fresh look at the hotel guest user experience and interaction. It was a given that we would add charging features and, after discussing features with many hoteliers, guests, and trusted hospitality insiders, we began to question the “radio” in “clock radio”! This sparked an idea with really great potential.”
Of course, releasing a device with charging ports but no AM/FM radio was a risk – when CubieTime was in development, traditional clock radios were the most popular hotel bedside clocks in use. But due to the rise of digital music storage and audio streaming, this popularity was starting to fade.
“By eliminating a feature which hotel guests rarely used,” explains Mininger, “we were able simplify and minimize the product, and focus on the features guests actually do use.”
Understanding what customers want
These features include two tamper resistant power outlets and a pair of USB charging ports, a large LED display (with four-level dimming) and an easy-to-set alarm. For Mininger and Brandstand, this ease of use is crucial.
“We design our clock products with an intuitive interface for ease of alarm setting, comfortable dimming and always displayed alarm time. So, when a hotel guest first encounters a Cubie product, they immediately understand how to set the alarm and are assured it’s set correctly.”
"Our aim will always be to thoughtfully design products that simply satisfy a need and do it well," says Brandstand's Staci Mininger.
Ease of use is one of four components in Brandstand’s design approach, alongside durability, safety and aesthetic design. They are the foundation of a strategic approach to innovative product development that started with a stand for an Ethernet cable, led to the Cubie (a simple surge protector and USB power device), and has grown to embrace alarm clocks, flush mount power solutions and Qi Wireless charging devices.
“All of our products are market driven and an evolution of the product before them,” Mininger says. “We continue to adapt and learn from our customers, specifically the hoteliers. They are our greatest source of inspiration because they know what their hotel’s guests are demanding and what they are willing to purchase to meet their guest’s needs.”
Cubie timing is everything
Brandstand isn’t afraid to introduce new technologies – such as new charging standards – but it only does so when it feels the time is right.
“We continue to study new technology trends, talk to customers and innovate based on the needs of the hospitality market,” explains Mininger. “And by effectively timing the introduction of new products into the market, hoteliers and end users find value in our products. In other words, we only release new technology when guests demand it, and hoteliers require it.”
CubieTime proved to be a huge success across the hospitality industry, and the device was quickly embraced by various brands within the Choice Hotel, Marriott and Hilton portfolios as an approved alarm clock option. Brandstand has sold over 1.7 million Cubie devices and they can be found in over 30,000 hotels all around the world.
“Brandstand is an industrial design-driven company,” says Staci Mininger. “Our aim will always be to thoughtfully design products that simply satisfy a need and do it well.”
Brandstand, wholly owned by TXS Industrial Design, designs and builds power and charging products for the hospitality industry. Find out more about those products here.
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