Catherine Clarke Fox

When Matty Sallin, 34, was working on a degree in art and technology at New York University, he got an interesting assignment in electronics class: Create something for the household. He decided to create an alarm clock.

"Everybody has to deal with these every day, and they are extremely unpleasant!" he says. He asked different people what they'd like to wake up to instead of a clanging, noisy alarm. A lot of them said, "The smell of bacon."

So Sallin and two classmates invented a new kind of alarm clock: a wooden box with a pig face and a digital clock that uses the smell of cooking bacon rather than sound to wake someone up. He explains, "There's no danger of burning, because I built it carefully. It uses halogen light bulbs instead of a flame for cooking and turns off automatically after ten minutes." Just a few easy steps are required to set the "alarm."

"What you do is put a couple of frozen strips in the night before," says Sallin. Bacon is cured, or preserved, so there is no danger of it spoiling overnight.

"If you set the alarm for 8:00, it will turn on at 7:50 and slow cook for ten minutes under the halogen bulbs," he says. Then the bulbs turn off and a fan blows the scent out through the nostrils of the pig.

"So instead of an alarm or a beep or a radio, you smell yourself awake," says Sallin. "Then you can open the door on the side and pull the bacon out and eat it."

When Sallin was a kid, he spent a lot of time making drawings of inventions. "I wanted to make an elevator in my back yard and a special tree house," he says. "But I never really thought I'd be called an inventor!"

Sallin got an A in the class and went on to other things—but people continue to hear about his invention and email him every day asking where they can buy his alarm clock.

These days he designs computer software, but if he decides to produce and sell his aroma alarm, maybe he can develop some other models. Any votes for cinnamon buns?

Text by Catherine Clarke Fox