By Doug Gross
(CNN) — If the concept of being awakened by a complete stranger sounds good to you, as opposed to, say, creepy or disconcerting, then Wakie is the app for you.
Originally launched in 2011, Wakie has finally made its way to the iPhone’s App Store, after a reported nine-month wait. It’s also available for Android and Windows phones and, according to the company, already has 1.5 million users in 80 countries.
They call it the “social alarm clock” and “a friendly community of people who wake each other up in the morning.” And the concept is that simple.
If you set an alarm through the app at, say, 6 a.m. you’ll get a call from another user waking you up when that time comes. Likewise, if you’re in the mood to be the waker, not the wakee, (“Wakies” and “Sleepies” in the app’s parlance) you can go to the app, see how many people are ready to rise and shine and click to be the person who delivers the news.
Connections are made through the app and no one ever sees another user’s phone number. The length of a call is limited to one minute, and users are encouraged to sing songs, tell jokes, recite poems or use otherwise create ways to kickstart their slumbering community members’ days.
If no “wakies” are on the app when you’ve set an alarm, Wakie sends you an automated robo-call to do the job.
It’s worth noting that, on the app’s social feed, it’s not uncommon to see folks who have awakened to the sound of a stranger’s voice trying to track down that stranger, or vice versa.
So that’s all well and good. But … why? Why get a stranger to wake you up instead of, you know, an alarm.
“A lot of people keep snoozing alarm clocks and still can’t wake up,” Hrachik Adjamian, Wakie’s CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch. “Our research shows that a one-minute talk to a stranger wakes your brain up with a 99% guarantee. When someone asks you questions in the morning your brain has to wake up to answer. Also you try to be kind, you try to turn on your social pattern of behavior. After the call you can’t sleep anymore even if you had a short sleep.”
But what about the creep factor? Is there anything stopping someone from calling up and being abusive or rude?
There are in-app tools to report abuse, but Adjamian says it’s never really been a problem.
Wakie is free, but there are plans for a premium version in the works. Adjamian told TechCrunch that version may allow conversations up to five minutes, as well as letting users choose the gender of the person who calls them.
Which starts to sound a bit too much like a wakeup dating app to us — though there are worse ways to have early-morning chats with romantically minded strangers, we suppose.
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