Releases Virtual Video Backgrounds

April 08, 2014 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
April 8, 2014 - has not been shy about adding functionality to its basic concept. When it began over eight years ago, the site offered little more than an alarm clock. While that certainly fulfilled the promise in the site's domain name, it's a fairly thin hook upon which to hang your hat. One can speculate as to whether the site would be what it is today if it had never progressed beyond its simple beginnings, but the point is a moot one. The fact is that Thomas Churm, the owner/creator of the world's original Online Alarm Clock, has never been one to settle for the status quo.

"Technology is moving forward at a rate faster than any of our clocks can track," says Churm. "I knew if I wanted the site to stay relevant into the future, I had to stay on top of that natural progression. Online Clock is still very basic compared to what some websites have been able to do, but there's a place for that, too. Not every website needs to push the boundaries of what's possible. As we've seen with other websites, there are ways you can ruin a good thing by removing its simplicity."

Churm's latest upgrade comes in the form of ambient backgrounds, which you can find at Users can turn these video backgrounds on to experience waterfalls, aquariums, and even the lazy tumble of a washing machine. "When I created, I wanted to give people a time management tool they could use to stay productive in the face of a million distractions. But productivity and silence have never been inextricable bedfellows. Some studies even show that people work better with a bit of ambient sound."

Of course, Internet users are hardly strangers to ambient backgrounds and videos. YouTube is filled with videos that promise hours of tranquil entertainment. Cheap home video producers have made a fortune selling virtual fireplaces to consumers who don't have a real one. What has done, however, is combine the entrenched idea of ambient videos into the functionality of their Online Alarm Clock. Users can now keep track of their time, set an alarm, and listen to the rain fall steadily while watching raindrops accumulate on a car's windshield without using several different websites.

Along with the added backgrounds, the site has also included a host of adjustable options. To ensure that no two users have to experience the videos in the same way, provides options to control the size of the clock, adjust the volume, and change out the video for something else. This level of customization is seldom seen in websites offering an ambient environment, but the options are limited enough to keep them from becoming yet another online distraction.

But what about Churm's claim that people study and work better when ambient sound is introduced into the equation? Is this just puffery, or is there something to the idea? A group of researchers at the University of Illinois decided to look into the subject. What they found could surprise proponents of quiet study time. In their trials, they found that participants listening to background noise at a level of 70 decibels were able to concentrate more fully on their work than those who had only a relatively silent background of 50 decibels. The concentration benefits, scientists found, began to reverse at 85 decibels, at which point the participants began losing their focus to distraction. Researchers believe a moderate amount of background noise allows people to focus without losing their penchant for abstract thought.

While listening to music at moderate levels can mimic the qualities of natural background ambience, lyrics and familiar passages can prove as distracting as a jackhammer. This is one of the reasons has incorporated passive videos such as aquariums, fire, and rain. The noise from these videos introduces the benefits proven by the University of Illinois' study without permitting the distractions inherent in most modern music. Of course, ambient music like classical, movie soundtracks, and electronic dance music can accomplish similar goals as long as the music is unfamiliar to the listener.

Ambient sounds aren't just for better productivity, of course. A 2012 study conducted by Consumer Reports found that white noise machines were as effective at helping people sleep as sleeping medications and other over-the-counter sleep aids. The background ambience featured at provides the same qualities as such a machine, replacing the sounds of static with rhythmic audio from our everyday lives. Users who want to conquer their insomnia may find peace in the site's videos. has introduced several background videos to appeal to users of their time-management tools. Videos include rain simulations, roaring fireplaces, aquariums, washing machines, and running water. Each category has several videos from which to choose, and the site's management is quick to replace videos should they go down for any reason. Will the site's background ambience make a difference in the productivity of its users? As always, only time will tell!

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