Plucked From Obscurity: Inventions to Wake a Sleeper

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Inventive yet under-publicized devices
by Marina Tsipis, Improbable Research staff

Here are two patented inventions designed to wake sleeping persons.

Stevens’s Water-Spewing Awakener
“Machine for Waking a Sleeper,” US patent 7283427, granted to James Thomas Stevens, October 16, 2007.

The primary object of the invention is to awaken a sleeper by means of a light spray of water as a harmless, tactile stimulus. Another object of the invention is to awaken a sleeper who may not respond to stimulation of his/her other senses, for example, a hearing impaired person....

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, there is disclosed machine for waking a sleeper comprising: water reservoir, pumping means, water lines, nozzle, and timer/activation device. 

Applegate’s Descending Awakener
“Device for Waking Persons From Sleep,” US patent 256265, Samuel S. Applegate, April 11, 1882.

In carrying out my invention I suspend a light frame in such a position that it will hang directly over the head of the sleeper, the suspending-cord being combined with automatic releasing devices, whereby the frame is at the proper time permitted to fall into the sleeper’s face.

In the drawings, A represents the frame, which consists of a central bar, a, having on each side a number of projecting arms, b, the whole being made as light as is consistent with proper strength. From each of the arms b hang a number of cords, d, and to the lower end of each of these cords is secured a small block, e, of light wood, preferably cork....

By a simple connection between the cord B and the key of a self-lighting gas-burner, provision may be made for turning on and lighting the gas in the room at the same time that the sleeper is awakened.


This article is republished with permission from the September-October 2017 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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