How to Burn the Midnight Oil without Fueling the Electricity Bill

It happens all the time – people sit in bed with their laptops or tablets and fall asleep with the lights on. We challenged you to solve the sore necks, the poor night's sleep and the wasted electricity.

Read Jameco Challenge: Burning the Midnight Oil

Dog at Computer

Here are some of the top solutions for getting teenagers to go to sleep at night:

"Get a desk in his room, work at the desk. When he's tired, he will leave the desk, turn off the lights and go to bed. He can wear a headband with a proximity switch that turns on an alarm when his head gets close to or on the desk." – Ed Ware in Illinois

"Install x10 house controls. Install the app on the laptop. Trigger an app to run prior to the screen saver. Let it ask the question ‘Do you want your lights on?’ No answer in 15 minutes, dim the lights. No answer in 30 minutes, turn off the lights. A voice activated control works, too. Those are easy to build for clap lights. Say a user programmed word and the device claps the command for on or off. That could be done with Bare Conductive paint and some parts." – Jesse Grune in Colorado

"A simple, non-invasive head switch controlling a power switch. The subject of attention dons a simple headband encasing a mercury switch, with a lead running to a power switch (a small unit containing SCR circuitry powered by an isolating transformer). The latter enables safe control of main power devices by a remote microswitch or similar switches." – Brian Graham in Australia

"The Touch and Go Switch Kit. With the kit, he can wire a night light that will turn on when his son touches the activation surface... and set the time to dim slightly before turning off. If his son is awake, one quick touch gives another 20 minutes of light. If, however, his son is enjoying the restful benefits of a trip to slumber-land, the light will turn itself off." – Bill Cameron in Texas

"Being mostly a software guy, I came up with this solution: Laptop's Webcam + OpenCV FaceTracking + circle detection (looking for the shut eyes) = PC Speaker BEEEEEP!!!! Problem solved!" – Graeme Wicksted in Canada

"A light sensor pointed at the screen so if the screen goes dark, then the room goes dark. Or, how about a GUI application that presents a small window that can be positioned under the light sensor? Make it so it always stays above any other application open on the desktop. It could be as simple as a small, white, square – whatever the minimal size it needs to be to activate the light sensor. Another possibility is to monitor the heat produced by the CPU. When the laptop goes to sleep, the CPU will soon cool which can be a trigger for the room lights via a thermistor." – S.T. Lawson in California

"His son's laptop could be programmed to look for activity like key strokes or scrolling or any other input. In the absence of any activity after a predefined period of time, an alarm could be sounded to wake up his son. This solution is simple, low cost and relatively easy to implement. To personalize it, the alarm could be any audio or video file that does the job." – Peter Langer in Michigan

"I have a 14-year-old son who falls asleep (or not) in the exact same position. I have long ago found a solution to this problem and it is surprisingly low-tech. Creep into your son's room, position yourself near the bed and extend your arms. Then, in a swift motion, TAKE AWAY THE FREAKIN' COMPUTER! You might also want to follow this up with a similar technique directed at any tablets and/or phones. It's been working for me." – Mark Barton in California

Got a great idea for this challenge? Send it to [email protected].