Sandman Doppler: The World's Best Alarm Clock

Created by Palo Alto Innovation

Alexa enabled, 6 USB charging ports, music playing, smart alarm clock. Meet the Sandman Doppler, the best alarm clock you've ever seen!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Work work work!
over 1 year ago – Fri, Dec 08, 2017 at 12:12:24 AM

Hi all, 

We haven't been very good at updating you on the progress of the Doppler and it's development. Why?

We have been SUPER busy and have neglected these updates. Sorry about that! We have been very good at responding to comments on the Kickstarter and answering messages. So, if you ever have a question, let us know and we will get back to you ASAP. 

Our next big deadline is January 9th, the start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) we mentioned in the past. We are booth # 42757 which is upstairs at the Sands convention center behind the Venetian Hotel. Here is the map: 

 Now, onto the Doppler!

Speaker testing with reference mic  

As David (the lead designer on the project) mentioned in the video, sound is very important to us. We spent a long time tuning the speakers in the Doppler to sound as great as possible before the campaign. Most of the testing we did was by ear, which is not the most scientific way of testing speaker quality. Recently we spent some time with some very fancy acoustic testing equipment in a simulated anechoic chamber to scientifically verify that our speakers sounded great! Through this testing, we found a few tweaks we could make to increase the sound quality and frequency response.   

Our audio expert suggested we added two internal “blockers” to increase the distance the sound has to travel to the bass port, thus increasing our bass output. We mocked this up with our 3d printer and then tested again in the anechoic chamber. The difference was substantial and the Doppler sounds even better now, both to our ears and to the fancy testing equipment.

The blockers are in blue
The blockers are in blue


3D printed prototype blockers
3D printed prototype blockers

Once we have final Doppler parts using production components and injection molded parts we will do another round with the chamber so we can use the information to tune the speakers even further via an equalizer in software. This should help dial in the sound EVEN further and we are confident everyone will be happy with the sound quality of the product.

User Experience (UX) Updates

During the Kickstarter, we listened hard to what our users wanted and in the last couple weeks we have spent a lot of time in our conference room working on the UX of the product. While it seems like a very simple product at first glance, the Doppler is actually a pretty complex product with lots of nuances and use cases that aren’t apparent at first glance. On top of this, the Doppler has a screen on the front, illuminated buttons on the top and a smartphone app. All of these have to have a cohesive and intuitive user experience that works. We are now going through all of these in detail and we will constantly be tweaking these internally until we release to the Beta backers. We will take Beta backers feedback and refine the user experience even further.

We went through a lot of post-its
We went through a lot of post-its

 Color Update

 Above is a graph of the latest data for the color counts for the Doppler from Backerkit. Currently only Blackout, Moon Grey, and Midnight Blue have passed the threshold for being produced, but we are hopeful that Sunset Orange and Dusk Red will cross the threshold as more orders come in before production starts. If you’d like to order more Dopplers or know someone that might make sure to direct them here:  

Currently Green flash and Sunset pink look to be at risk of not getting made. We will give it some more time before calling it with these colors, but just thought we’d give you guys a colorful heads up.

Picture of all of our backers:   

We wanted to share this pretty awesome map we made. Every single pin is one of our amazing backers, you guys! The Doppler is worldwide and we thank you all for your amazing support!  

We are aiming for another in-depth update between Christmas and New Years on our decision to use Neopixels, DFM, tooling, and some other exciting news around Alexa. In the meantime, back to work for us! 

Thanks and have a very happy holiday season!  

Talk soon!


Mics, LED's, Alexa SDK, oh my!
over 1 year ago – Mon, Oct 09, 2017 at 10:26:05 PM

Doppler supporters,

It’s been a couple weeks since our last update, a lot has happened, and we wanted to fill you in! 

Reward Shipping Update

Thanks again to everyone who filled out the backerkit surveys so promptly! For those that haven’t yet, here is the link:  

Through the same link ( you’ll be able to get any additional add-ons you’d like (Doppler, Shirts, Original Sandman and cables) for the next couple months until the Doppler ships.

Cables and Sandmen!
Cables and Sandmen!


Check out all of the shirt colors!
Check out all of the shirt colors!


 Also if you need to change or edit your order or address the same link ( will work up until we “lock down” before shipping (the current schedule is Q2 2018). If you have already done this, you’re all set until the Doppler ships. 

Some orders going out to the truck
Some orders going out to the truck

 As of now, we have sent out all shirts, cable, and original Sandmen to all that have been ordered. 

If you feel like you have been missed or are having troubles, message us here on Kickstarter or send us an email at 

 Now, onto the actual product!  

Mic + Light sensor placement

Originally the Microphone and light sensor of the Doppler was located on the front of the unit. The Microphones would be behind two holes and the light sensor is located behind the tinted plastic.
Yellow for lightsensor, teal for mic holes
Yellow for lightsensor, teal for mic holes

We were planning for the final version of the Doppler to have smaller microphone holes on the front and the Light sensor is totally hidden behind the tinted front plastic. After some testing and more engineering, we are considering moving both the sensor and the microphones to the top of the unit.

The proposed new design!
The proposed new design!

 We are still testing to see if the microphone will be able to “hear” better on the top, but the light sensor will certainly have an easier time “seeing” how bright the room is on the top of the product as it won’t be behind the tinted plastic front which effectively acted like sunglasses. The original Sandman had it’s light sensor behind the front glass in the lower left corner, and it worked well. We are confident that moving the light sensor to the top will result in an even better product.

Light sensor on original Sandman
Light sensor on original Sandman

 We are also happy with the way the new top of the product looks, with the new microphone and light sensor, or with just the light sensor and with the microphones on the front still. It all depends on the testing we are doing now.

LED’s vs Neopixels

Some prototype boards
Some prototype boards

 One of the things we love about the Sandman is the type of display it uses. It’s not an LCD like most alarm clocks that emit lots of light into the room due to its backlight even at their dimmest setting. The Sandman uses large 1.8” 7-segment displays that will dim all the way down to nothing and emit no light into the room. The Doppler takes the same general principle from the original Sandman but kicks it up to the next level. We are currently testing two different solutions and are confident both will deliver a great product; we want to make sure we get the best possible solution.

Original Sandman 7-segment display
Original Sandman 7-segment display

 The way the prototype shown in the video was made was using 164 tiny LEDs. These LEDs are very small, around 2 mm x 2mm and actually have three “lights” in them, a red one, a green one and a blue one. Mixing these colors together and you can get any color you want. These LEDs need a “driver chip” in order to control them an supply power to them to utilize them in the Doppler. Due to the number of LEDs, we have to have a slew of driver chips to make the Doppler function. We are very happy with this solution, but we wanted to make sure we give you guys the best possible product so we had to try out another solution. 

Neopixel on right, LED on left. Quarter for scale.
Neopixel on right, LED on left. Quarter for scale.

 Thanks to the popularity of things like LED light strips LEDs with built-in drivers have become more and more popular. These are popularly known as “neopixels” and they are tiny 3.5mm x 3.5mm chips with 3 LEDs and the driver built into them. Another advantage of neopixels is you can daisy chain them together to make the board design a little simpler since there is no need for drivers. The downside to the neopixels is they are significantly more expensive than the LED’s and we haven’t tested the solution. So what’s the plan? Since we have already built and tested the LED solution, our next revision of the circuit boards will be using neopixels. We will report back which solution works better, but both solutions should be functionally and visually identical to you, the user.

So what’s the plan? Since we have already built and tested the LED solution, our next revision of the circuit boards will be using neopixels. We will report back which solution works better, but both solutions should be functionally and visually identical to you, the user.

Alexa SDK

For the last couple months, our software guys have been writing code for a service called AVS or Alexa Voice Services. AVS is the service that allows the Doppler (and other devices) to integrate with Amazon’s Alexa. The solution Amazon recommended used “interpreted” programming languages such as Python and Java to integrate AVS into devices.

Our engineers tested out some of these devices and we weren’t happy with the speed of the Alexa integration and felt like it took a little bit too long for Alexa to respond to your requests and wanted a more elegant native solution for the Doppler. To do this our team wrote our own Alexa protocol to communicate with AVS using C++, a native (non-interpreted) language. We did get it working fairly well and we were very happy with the speed, efficiency, and elegance of our new native solution. 

This Kickstarter closed on August 16th at 9 pm. 12 hours later, at 9 am on the 17th we got an email that Amazon had announced and released a new Alexa Device SDK (software development kit). This SDK effectively replaced our homegrown C++ solution and did it better than we ever could. We have spent the last couple weeks digging into the SDK and learning all of the things that it can do. We can now confidently say the new SDK is fantastic and we will end up with a more elegant and faster solution than we could have ever hoped. Another advantage of the new SDK is that a lot of the little nuances of the Alexa experience that Amazon has done such a great job with will be brought over to the Doppler. These are things like the volume of the music lowering when you say Alexa and what happens when an alarm goes off. Thanks to Amazon for making this SDK, it’s going to greatly help with development!

CES 2018

Palo Alto Innovation will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas! The dates of the show this year: January 9th-12th 2018

CES is the biggest tradeshow of the year and it’s absolutely huge. Last year 180,000 people flocked to 4 different convention centers around the city to check out over 4,000 different exhibiting companies. If you haven’t been, we highly recommend it. Pro tip: wear VERY comfortable shoes.  

We exhibited at CES a couple years back, but this year we are exhibiting upstairs at the Sands convention center and while it will be very tiring, I'm sure it will be a blast!  

If you’re at the show come say hi and check out the progress on the Doppler!  

Our booth is #: 42757 and we will be in the Smart Home category in "Tech west", upstairs at the Sands. We will send out a map in the next couple months.

Last time we were at CES
Last time we were at CES

 Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any questions.  

Stay tuned for our next update where we will discuss speaker testing, UX development, a color update and the Doppalator!


-PAI Team

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Quick shipping update - Original Sandmen, shirts and cables
almost 2 years ago – Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 04:34:56 PM

Doppler supporters, 

Happy Friday! 

 We just wanted to drop a quick note about shipping. If you ordered an original Sandman, t-shirt, or cable as part of your pledge or as an add-on in backerkit we have been fulfilling these orders the last couple days and should finish the middle of next week. Check your email for tracking numbers! 

A quick note on cables, if you ordered just a cable (and not a Doppler) we will ship the cable to you now. If you ordered a cable and a Doppler we will ship the cable with your Doppler. If anyone would like their cable shipped earlier just let us know and we can ship it out ASAP.

We will have an engineering update on the Doppler in a couple weeks. Things are looking great! Thanks for your support and patience!

-PAI team

BackerKit surveys are coming! + Colors!
almost 2 years ago – Wed, Sep 06, 2017 at 01:06:40 AM

Hi all, 

It's been 3 weeks since our Kickstarter closed and we have been hard at work on the Doppler. More on that in the next update! 

Answers below!
Answers below!

Backerkit surveys

Soon, you’ll receive an email from us with a special link to your BackerKit survey. It’s important to respond to your survey quickly as it really helps us plan things out. You don’t need to create a BackerKit account to fill out your survey. When you receive the email with the survey, click the survey link to respond. Answer the questions about your reward preferences, provide shipping information, and purchase add-on items if you like. We will have original Sandmen, USB cables, shirts, and more Dopplers available for purchase as add-on items! You don’t have access to this survey link yet, but it will be available soon via email!

After you respond to your survey, you can go back later and change your responses at anytime before we close the surveys (in a couple months) and get our final counts. If you need to review your information or pledge status, you can return to your survey by clicking the link in your survey email or requesting your survey link under "Lost your survey?" on our BackerKit project page at If you used your Facebook credentials to log into your Kickstarter account, the BackerKit survey is sent to the email address you use for your Facebook account. If you have another email address that you prefer to use, please contact support at

*Puppies not included
*Puppies not included

If you ordered a shirt, cable, or original Sandman as part of your Kickstarter pledge we will fulfill these items shortly as we have these ready to go in our warehouse. As you know the Doppler isn't finished yet, so those aren't going to ship out for a while. If you ordered some cables with your Doppler, we will ship these with your Doppler.  

We want to make this process as easy as possible, so if you have any questions, let us know in the comments. We will start sending surveys tomorrow! 


Since we hit our stretch goal of colors you'll need to choose one of 7 colors options in your Backerkit survey. Check out this site to get an idea of what the Sandman Doppler looks like in different colors. Remember that we will need 100 orders of each color in order to hit our minimums. If we don't have enough of some colors we will contact you and ask you to reselect your colors. 

Thanks again! 

-The PAI team 

Goal achieved!
almost 2 years ago – Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 08:04:49 PM

We did it everyone! 

We smashed our goal in 38 minutes and never stopped after that! Thanks to everyone for entrusting their hard earned money in us and we will not let you down.

So what's happening now? Well, last night after the Kickstarter closed we launched on Indiegogo Indemand. This is a service that allows people to pre-order the Doppler from us after the Kickstarter is finished while maintaining our Kickstarter total. The plan is to run on Indiegogo for around a month or so and try and keep the momentum going from our successful Kickstarter. Hopefully, more people will learn about the Doppler and pre-order one! Once we are happy with the traffic on Indiegogo we will launch pre-orders on our own website and people can pre-order from us directly. 

Click here to check out the Indiegogo!
Click here to check out the Indiegogo!

 In a few short weeks, you'll be receiving a survey from our friends at Backerkit. This survey will allow you to lock in your pledge and choose some important things like the color of your Doppler. If you pledged for the original Sandman, t-shirts, or cables this survey will allow you to pick your desired reward as well as your shipping address. After those are locked in, we will then ship everything we can (Original Sandmen, Cables, and Shirts) soon after. In this survey, you will also be able to pick and choose add-ons if you wanted another Doppler, cable, shirt, etc. It's a very easy to use and intuitive system and we are currently aiming to send them out the first week of September. 

You can expect an informative and detailed update from us at least once a month, detailing the status of all things Doppler. Now that we have backers, the orders, and the community behind the product the hard work begins. We will continue to be communicative and transparent with everything we can be and if you ever have any questions, let us know.


Thanks again and we hope you continue to enjoy the gifs! 

-The entire Palo Alto Innovation team!