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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Microsoft’s insane Android alarm app wants you to make faces at 6AM



Microsoft has been experimenting with guessing people's ages and emotions recently, and now the software maker has created an Android app to show off its machine learning skills. Mimicker Alarm for Android isn't your regular alarm. While most of us wake up at an intolerable hour to the sounds of wind chimes, some European techno, or just a really annoying buzzer, Microsoft has other plans for our morning ritual.
Mimicker Alarm does the normal alarm thing of waking you up, but it then expects you to play a game. Instead of dashing to the restroom and getting ready for work, Microsoft's Android alarm app wants you to take a selfie with a particular emotion, find an object that matches a color, or repeat a phrase like "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" There are three games to choose from: express yourself, color capture, and tongue twister.
Once you dismiss an alarm you have 30 seconds to complete the game. "If you don't complete that game in time, we assume you've fallen back asleep and then the alarm will start ringing again," says Allison Light, a program manager for Microsoft's Project Oxford team. Thankfully, you can choose the sounds and games so you can simply make a dumb face at the camera and not have to run around your house to find something green in the darkness of winter.
Mimicker Alarm might sound like the world's most insane and annoying alarm, but it's really designed to be a fun little app that shows off what Microsoft's machine learning is capable of. "We are showcasing several different Project Oxford APIs," Light says. "Since we're open sourcing all of the code, we thought an alarm app would be easy for other developers to read the code and see how we used the APIs."
If you want to pull some faces or run around looking for colored objects 30 seconds after your alarm each morning then Microsoft's Mimicker Alarm is available right now in the Google Play store.

Madhav Biju

Author & Editor

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