Blue Cat Gets Alarmed


Blue Cat has an alarm clock that’s over 15 years old. You’d think that would make it less than useful, but it happens to be perfectly designed for its purpose. And that’s the true test of a design – that it does what it needs to do.

So what does an alarm clock need to do? It needs to tell time in daylight and darkness, wake you up when it’s time, and stay within easy reach. And Blue Cat’s alarm clock does all three.


Blue Cat is up late, but he’ll still get up on time…

The Casio Quartz DQ-580 doesn’t have a lot of options, but it does tell time and sound an alarm. And Blue Cat thinks it does both elegantly. The display is large, and the large button lights up the display as well as “snoozing” the alarm for 5 minutes. The alarm itself starts gentle and builds in intensity, so he can turn it off before it wakes anyone else, but it also gets louder when his “cat nap” turns into a heavy sleep.

The clock is also easy to keep nearby. It’s small enough to carry around (and battery powered for mobility), and its triangular cross section prevents it from rolling no matter what side is put down. And it’s small enough to tuck under the pillow for a more personal alarm.

Blue Cat thinks that every solution should be engineered this way. A good design does what it needs to do and isn’t complicated. The key is to know what needs to be done, where it needs to be done, and how it will be used. Then an application of requirements analysis and systems thinking takes you to the right design. Blue Cat realizes that’s just common sense, but you could also call it good systems engineering.

Now if he can just get the clock off of his lap.

© William P. Doyle, Jr.  2012