Space Invaders Hack Turns Your Unread Email Into a New High Score

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[Photo: Grant Gibson]
When Grant Gibson saw a Space Invaders alarm clock at an after-Christmas sale for $5, he decided to grab it, even though he didn’t have any need for another alarm. But instead of just letting the clock sit unused on a shelf like most of us would, Grant decided to turn impulse buy lemons into hacker lemonade. Now, after a month of work, Grant has turned the clock into a GMail and Twitter notifier for his desk.

Thanks to an Arduino microcontroller and some LEDs that Grant inserted into the device, the alarm clock now lights up to let Grant know how many unread messages he has waiting for him. The best part? The clock still has the classic Space Invaders functionality and rolls back and forth whenever Grant receives a new message.

Grant's hacked version can still tell the time, but it needs to keep a constant wired connection to his computer to function as a notifier. The wire is pretty conspicuous but it does come with certain advantages: The clock originally ran on AAA batteries, but since it’s now constantly plugged in, it can draw power from Grant's desktop PC instead.

Grant's hack also includes extra lights that go unused at the moment, but leave open the possibility of expanded functionality. For now, though, Grant's happy with what he’s already achieved. “There’s loads more that could be done with it,” he says in his blog post, “but I was happy just turning it into something more useful without destroying it in the process."

Grant posted a description of the project--along with plans for building your own Space Invaders notifier--over on his blog. The original clock is also available over on Amazon, though you’ll have to pony up $16.65 if you don’t get the clock on sale.

[Grant Gibson via MAKE]

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