A smart alarm clock that delivers local news and advertising, weather, and traffic information as its users wake up is the winner of the 2019 RJI Student Competition.

A team of students from the University of Missouri developed NewSnooze, which utilizes Raspberry Pi and the Google Assistant system.  The competition brings together journalism, engineering and business students to tackle a journalism challenge.

Once the alarm clock goes off, the user can verbally tell Google, “Hey Google, give me more time.” The Google Assistant system responds with, “OK, while waking up… here’s what you might want to know,” and then begins sharing personalized information. The snooze feature continues to feature local news and advertising until the user tells the system that they’re awake.

The team would eventually like to include a feature that would monitor sleep patterns and wake a user up during a time of light sleep to provide better rest for the users.

The team saw a need for a device in the market that would provide both local news and events and offer a sleep monitoring function, said member Ningyuan Hu.

The hope is that NewSnooze will help users wake up right away. Snoozing can be unhealthy in that it cuts into a person’s sleep cycles and going back to sleep tells the body to start a new sleep cycle, according to Robert Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona in an article by CNN.

“I’m someone who hits the snooze on my alarm a lot, and I think that product could really help me in terms of getting more sleep and also being educated about what’s happening in the community at the same time,” said judge Wendy Lee, a Los Angeles Times reporter.

The team also demonstrated that local deals and promotions could be intertwined with the morning stream. The team surveyed 50 local businesses about advertising and learned that 81 percent would be interested in smart home advertising. Lee said she was impressed by the students’ level of research.

The members of Team Six Flags are junior Yongyu Deng, computer science; senior Danting He, journalism; senior Ningyuan Hu, strategic communication; junior Zhebin Weng, economics, and junior Yinting Yu, strategic communication.

Hu said the students ran into their share of challenges and successes.

“Every time we felt like it was the learning process,” Hu said. “We learned new stuff every day. That was meaningful. We have to keep learning in our future job. It makes me want to learn forever.”

Danting He, who is minoring in technology education, added, “this project absolutely got my skills put into practice and [and now I] know why I need it — that minor — and why it’s important and where I can go in my future career.”

Next steps for the team include a trip to Boston later this year where they will meet with media and technology experts and leaders. All teams received an Oculus Go VR headset.

MU | Missouri School of Journalism | University of Missouri