You’ve probably experienced that familiar scenario—asking someone to recount their favorite tales or insights, whether it’s about a cherished video game like Zelda or a personal journey they’ve embarked upon. There’s something comforting in hearing stories, particularly when they relate to subjects close to our hearts. It’s a way to connect, relive cherished memories, and sometimes, just to have a little fun by repeating the same story to annoy someone (we’ve all been there).
This sense of comfort in familiar narratives came to mind when I explored the Loftie Alarm Clock’s latest feature—the Magic Story Maker. This innovative addition allows the clock to generate AI-powered bedtime stories tailored to your preferences, providing you with personalized tales to ease you into a peaceful slumber. These stories could transport you to foreign lands, take you on snowy train rides with your best friend, or even bring your favorite fictional characters to life. While the Loftie offers a wide array of soundscapes, the Magic Story Maker stands out as one of its most captivating features.
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Before we delve into the world of AI-generated bedtime stories, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Loftie Alarm Clock for what it primarily is—an alarm clock.
If you’re anything like me, you’re notorious for hitting the snooze button repeatedly, regardless of the type of alarm clock you use. Mornings just aren’t your thing, and that’s perfectly fine. Well, the Loftie Alarm Clock comes with a built-in snooze feature, designed in two phases. You can customize the sounds for both phases, starting with the Wake-Up Alarm, which lasts about 30 seconds, followed by the Get Up Alarm nine minutes later. The idea here is that the first phase gently rouses you from your slumber, while the second serves as the official wake-up call.
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These alarm settings can be configured on the Loftie itself or through the Loftie app available on iOS and Android platforms. The app also allows you to adjust alarm volumes and select the nightlight’s brightness. However, to save these preferences and receive software updates, your clock needs to be connected to Wi-Fi.
Once you’ve set your alarms, adjusted sound and brightness settings, you won’t require the app for daily use. Everything you need can be accessed directly on the clock. Three buttons on the top of the device serve different functions: the middle button navigates the main menu, including Alarms, Sounds, Playlists, Bluetooth, and Settings; the smallest right button facilitates selections, while the large left button lets you return to previous choices and control the nightlight. The Sounds menu offers a range of soundscapes, from white and blue noise to the crackling ambiance of campfires or the soothing patter of rain on a tent. Playlists offer a variety of content, including soundbaths, sound patterns, and the stories generated by the Magic Story Maker.
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While it took me some time to adjust to the Loftie alarm, I found the two preset alarms more pleasing than those on my smartphone. Unfortunately, they didn’t magically transform me into a morning person. During the initial days of using the Loftie, I instinctively hit snooze on the first alarm, only to realize that it would snooze itself if I waited long enough. Regrettably, I often took advantage of those nine extra minutes to slip back into a deep slumber, instead of preparing to rise when the second alarm chimed. Each morning, I would disable the second alarm and quickly return to dreamland.
Though I enjoyed the sounds provided by Loftie more than my phone’s alarms, it seems that I would need additional alarms—perhaps a third, fourth, or fifth option—to effectively coax me out of bed at the intended time.
Now, let’s delve into the Loftie’s latest feature—the AI-powered Magic Story Maker. This intriguing innovation harnesses the capabilities of ChatGPT and ElevenLabs’ voice AI to craft customized bedtime stories. These stories are accessible directly from the Playlists menu on your Loftie Clock.
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Loftie offers several story outlines to kickstart your creative journey, such as “A Snowy Train Ride” or “Last Days of Summer.” To personalize these stories, you’ll fill out a Typeform questionnaire with specific questions, including your name, your companion’s identity, and your desired activities. You can also add any additional details you’d like to incorporate. After a brief wait, you’ll receive an email notification confirming that your customized story is ready. Ensure that you use the same email associated with your Loftie for the update. If you’re uncertain about the update, simply hold down the small right button to trigger a reset; your clock will automatically check for software updates.
Listening to these stories was a soothing experience. Finding the stories on the Loftie was straightforward, although the titles were sometimes randomly generated—my train ride story was labeled “Lumina,” while my journey abroad was titled “Kyoto Dreams.” I appreciated that the Loftie stories integrated the specific details I had requested, such as savoring cheesecake during my snowy train ride and accurately describing the vermillion torii gates of Fushimi Inari. However, I was less thrilled with the vague food descriptions. When I selected “food from this area” for my Japan-themed story, it simply mentioned “grilled skewers” from a street vendor. I had hoped for a more specific culinary experience.
Another slight hiccup occurred when the stories attempted to depict people in my life, relying solely on who they were to me and their pronouns. For instance, when my train ride story mentioned that my husband “couldn’t resist good chocolate” and opted for mint tea, I found it slightly off the mark. Subsequently, I generated a similar story but featured two of my beloved fictional characters to preserve the immersive experience. This approach yielded more satisfying results.
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One drawback to these stories being exclusive to your Loftie Clock is that if you have a partner or roommate who prefers not to listen to bedtime stories, they have no alternative. The Loftie lacks a headphone jack for private listening, and the stories are solely available on the Loftie. Moreover, they require a Loftie+ membership priced at $5 per month, adding to the overall cost. With the clock itself priced at $150, it’s not the most affordable option. While it does make for an attractive nightstand addition and includes a wide array of content (excluding the Magic Story Maker’s AI storytelling), there are less expensive sound machines available with fewer features.
Nonetheless, the Magic Story Maker stands out as an impressive and enjoyable application of AI. Looking forward to winding down before bedtime is a delightful prospect when you know that a custom-tailored story awaits—provided you’re willing to invest in the Loftie clock and its monthly subscription.