I came across this news article and video called Mothers Voice May be Best Fire Alarm last year. The video and article explain how kids do not respond to the standard beeping/wailing fire alarms but instantly respond to their mother’s voice. I thought the concept was interesting and I wondered if I could use this idea to solve a personal family problem as well as a fresh take on how our customer base could use this to sell more multi-room audio systems and/or more zones within a system.
Allow me to explain; The point that really stood out in the article was that while kids don’t react to loud beeping noises they immediately react to the sound of their mothers voice. Now I know this to be a 100% true because I have two teenage kids and they do not move in the morning until their mom calls them out of bed. They seem to have this amazing ability to ignore the various alarm bells and buzzers but respond almost instantly to their mother’s, sometimes irritated voice.
I decided to try an experiment to see if I could eliminate the 6:30 AM weekday bedside ritual of “Aaron… WAKE UP”. “Emily…. WAKE UP”. “Aaron… are you up”? AARON…. ARE YOU UP?” “AARON… GET OUT OF BED”! In five minute increments with escalating agitation. Not a good way to start the day.
In my case I have I have a Sonos multi-room house audio system but this process should work with any system that can play a playlist of digital audio files and has some sort of alarm functionality for each audio zone. I got a new Sonos zone for each of my kids and installed in their rooms. Like in most homes my kids rooms were dedicated to their iPods and not part of the house system. They were thrilled to have audio in their room but mostly because they could control “their” zone with their iPhone. The free Sonos iPhone app really helps here because it makes the system “cool” to the teenagers.
Once it was set up and working in each room I recorded separate MP3 files of my wife asking the kids to wake up. The first one was sweet and full of a mothers love for her kids. Emily,… honey,… time to wake up. The second one was a little more urgent. Aaron, time to get up NOW. The third one a little more, uhh.. strident and the fourth one an outright threat to not make her come in there and get them out of bed.
I named each file (kids name)1-4.MP3 for a total of eight files and stored on our media server hard drive. From there I used the Sonos software to create a play list called (kids name) Wake Up. The playlist for each kid consisted of eight MP3 files. Three minutes of new age, bongo and flute music then my wife’s first wake up track personalized for each kid. More bongo and flute then another track of my wife imploring each kid to wake up, more bongo and flute, more personal reminders to get out their ass out of bed.
I created a personal playlist for each kid and used the Sonos Zone clock and alarm feature to set each alarm to wake them up with their own personal play list. As you can see the the Sonos UI makes this pretty simple and straightforward.
So how did it work? Really amazing results. Sometimes I get up earlier than everyone and start working in the upstairs office where the kids bedrooms are. I set my daughters zone to go off first and instead of listening to her alarm clang and bong and then my wife getting up or yelling at her to get up I hear her zone go off, my wife’s recorded voice asking her to get up and she immediately gets up and takes a shower.
My son’s alarm goes off 10 minutes later and I hear him get up after the second “warning” from my wife. No stress, no drama. The bottom line is we have much more peace and harmony in the house and less morning stress for all parties.
I think this exact scenario is played out every day across America, if not the world, in homes that have teenage kids. This is a real world example of how useful a true whole house audio system can be. Not only is it endlessly entertaining but it helps move the family out the door in the morning and keeps the peace. Something all parents will appreciate and another solid reason to own, expand or upgrade a whole house audio system.
It should be noted that beyond entertainment and sophisticated alarm clocks the security aspect of this new generation of multi-room audio systems should be communicated to your customers. If you can link a security/fire alarm system to the whole house audio system you can create audio play lists for any emergency that tell the occupants exactly what is going on and exactly what to do in a familier voice.
So the next time a client dismisses the value of multi room audio or adding zones to the kids room make sure to tell them this story.