Alternative to Bed Shakers to Compare for Hearing Loss Users

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Bed shakers provide a sense of touch to replace sounds. For this reason, bed shakers can provide awareness for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. That being said, it seems to be a natural solution for people with hearing loss.

Bed shakers have been around for many decades, and actually, it is the de facto choice for people with hearing loss. Yet, bed shakers have their plus and minus, and therefore, I thought we should discuss what others are currently using. It’s important to know what you need and what alternative solutions are beneficial to you.

In this article, I will share the various reasons why bed shakers do not work and the other options that you can use instead.

How Bed Shaker Functions

Bed shakers are either electric or battery-operated devices. They connect to a home base device that controls the bed shaker or work wirelessly via Bluetooth using an app that operates it. Hence, they don’t act independently but need something else to manage their functions. 

When you buy a bed shaker, you need to know what purpose you will need to use the bed shaker. Above all, you will need to understand how you can be alerted in various situations. For example, bed shakers in the market can help alert fire alarms, door knocks or ringing doorbells, intruders or breaking glass, baby crying or waking up to a clock alarm

Bed shakers typically have a stronger intensity to alert you or get your attention. I have also seen that the bed shaker connected with an electric cord can give a much stronger power than an AA battery-operated shaker with no wire. Therefore, if you are a deep sleeper, you might benefit from a stronger vibration to help wake you up.

The benefit of choosing an alternative

So why would an alternative be efficient? Bed shakers were the very first technologies that assisted people with hearing loss. Since the beginning, technology has remained the same, and little has changed in design and functions. However, a bed shaker may come up as an inconvenient solution, especially if you experience the following:

One Too Many Solutions

When you buy an alerting system, a bed shaker is often purchased separately or together with other devices. The alerting system consists of three things:

  1. The transmitter is the device that identifies the warning.
  2. The receiver is the device that responds to the alarm.
  3. The device that gives you the notice, like the bed shaker.

Therefore, these devices are either sold separately or in a bundle. 

Each brand may serve different alerting needs. Using a bed shaker for another brand may not be easy or interchangeable. The bed shaker can only operate with one device. Therefore, it can be challenging to use with other devices that you own that serve different purposes. 

Let’s say that you have a bed shaker for an alarm clock that you are using, but the brand doesn’t manufacture alerts for baby cries. In this case, you might need to purchase another system to alert you to baby cry that comes with its own shaker. Now, you’ve turned your bed into one fat-burning weight loss vibrating machine! Of course, you can replace it with another brand with all the features you need. Still, then you now have to toss your extra device into the landfill, which may not be your choice for living consciously and sustainably.

It Takes up Space

With travel airlines charging more for carry-ons and check-in bags, most of us aim to travel lightly. Furthermore, the hotel or accommodation abroad might not have enough alerting kits to distribute or none at all. While these devices are not massive by any stretch, they take up space in your luggage for a straightforward task. So, travelling with a bed shaker may be too bulky, and you may prefer to choose another option.

See also  Free Equipment for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

It Lacks Portability

Bed shakers typically serve the purpose of walking up during sleeping or during bedtime hours. If you are at the office, do not wear hearing aids, or are not in the house, bed shakers might not be the best option. Because you will need to carry the device around with you to receive the alert notifications.

If it’s a Bluetooth-operated device, you may not want to carry it around all the time. These devices are not user-friendly to carry around with you. Consider the times when you are cooking, in the shower or watching tv, when you need a free hand, or your vision is directed at the tasks at hand. You may not want to be holding the shaker all the time. There is no visible awareness that your bed shaker is activated. In the case of the shower, these devices are not waterproof and can’t be near any water.

Sleep Disturbance for Others

Many people have spouses or partners who may have a different sleeping style or schedule then you have. The bed shakers often have enough strength to shake the bed and wake everyone up, husband, wife, dogs and cats. This is fine if you all wake up and sleep at the same time, but if you are operating on a different schedule, having a bed shaker may wake them up unnecessarily. You might want to give your bedmate a good sleep rather than disturb them on a daily basis.

The Alternatives for Bed Shakers


Pagers are wearable devices that are typically clipped onto your clothing. Pagers can be used for the home to help direct your attention while busy around the house. In addition, some pagers can operate with fire alarm panels and systems in commercial buildings. 

Pagers are the type of devices that only work with the brand that manufactures them. This means you can’t use a pager with another fire alarm system or door knock sensors. Therefore, you have to choose one brand over the other. Like the bed shakers, they are usually bought together with the alert system you require. Hence, you will have to buy a system of parts where the pager is a component of the system. Pagers are available with brands like Serene InnovationsBellman and Symfon, HomeAware, or Silent Call.

Some of these pages have a distance limit from the base or the receiver. So after a certain distance, it stops working. It’s like having a mobile phone not working because the wireless connection is poor. Thus if you don’t live in a mansion or a small house with rooms connected like a maze, it will operate well. However, people who work in large factories or big halls would need a commercial solution or buy more alerting systems to cover all their bases.


  • They are small enough to be handheld or clipped to clothing
  • Alerts with a message or symbols to direct your attention
  • You are not tied to the base but have freedom of movement


  • They are locked to a specific brand and need to buy additional devices as needed
  • They are not waterproof to use in the shower
  • Limited to a square distance from the base

Wristband or Smartwatch

Smartwatch, wristband, or any solution around the wrist is probably the haptic solution with the closest contact to your skin. With that, you are bound to feel the alerts. The closer in contact with your body, the better your chances are of not missing any alert.

There are several smartwatches like Vibratime, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin and Samsungs. These watches will come with a basic alarm clock to alert you. Yet, they can either operate with Bluetooth and WiFi to bring signals from other paired devices or run an app on the watch. 

The sensors are strong enough for some people, but it isn’t enough for others. In addition, you are not limited to only using the app on the brand’s watch. You can use many apps with a smartphone or mobile device. 

See also  Early-Warning Notifications: Alerting Devices for Hard of Hearing

None of the traditional alerting devices can pair with a smartwatch. Therefore, your wrist and arms are real estates for one or two wearable devices. Furthermore, the software to give you the alert you need may not be available from one brand to another. In that case, some smartwatches may not be able to do more than just alert an alarm clock. Hence, they may fail to alert the fire alarm, door knock, baby cry etc., all the essential sounds to you.


  • Get close contact to skin and are usually waterproof to use in the bath
  • You won’t wake up your sleeping partner
  • Transportable and compact with multiple usages


  • It may limit what alerts you need outside of the home
  • The haptic sensors may not be strong enough
  • You may be required to charge the battery often when in need.
  • May need multiple apps to operate. 

Vibrate Mode on Mobile Device

Sometimes, just having a mainstream device like a smartphone can function in many ways. And many people own a smartphone these days. So, if you are seeking to be alerted, using the built-in haptic feature from your mobile device or smartphone is one solution. 

Many people already have the habit of carrying their mobile devices 24/7. Therefore, they are tuned to the alerts from the phone even when it isn’t directly in front of them. If that is you, you are the best candidate for receiving alerts from mobile devices. Additionally, having a mobile device under your pillow or beside your pillow can work if you are a light sleeper.

Again, like the smartwatches, the only thing is that you need additional software to alert you to what you need to pay attention to, but they are more accessible these days. Furthermore, if you are someone who doesn’t always have their phone with them all the time, perhaps, a device like a smartwatch would be a better alternative. 


  • Repurpose your mobile phone or smartphone 
  • Can alert you to many things with various apps
  • Easy to travel with you outside of your home or during travels


  • Not an ideal solution if you leave your phone away from you throughout the day
  • You’ll need to access the software to provide the alert you need
  • Not suitable if you are a sleeper who toss and turns all over the bed 


I’ve shown how we can receive haptic or vibration to alert us to events that require our immediate attention. However, other solutions in the market go beyond assistive devices but use mainstream technologies that have served different purposes in our lives. Seeing the other options out there, you can make the best-informed choice. You can invest in a solution that will help you under various circumstances and situations you often encounter. 

If you liked this post, you’d LOVE Making Sense Sunday

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