Sunday, September 21, 2008

Electronic frisbee made in China

My friend Corina, who has an excellent French-language blog named Jour après jour [Day after day], is interested in devices such as watches and clocks that are construed to keep time in a fuzzy fashion. Her latest discovery on the web is an elegantly-designed timepiece that enables you, for a price tag of merely $229, to attain the ultimate Nirvana in which Time is what you want it to be.

[Click the image to visit the website that sells this beautiful object.]

Designed by Sander Mulder, the timepiece is described poetically:

About Time

Poetry in motion,
this innovative clock reveals the passing of time by
rolling around your desk and
telling time in one long continuous sentence.

Designed in reaction to our stressed lives,
where we tend to plan our daily activities to the minute,
this clock simply tells you
"It's about six o'clock" or "it's almost seven now".

While rolling around your table,
the slow but constant, almost meditative motion
allows you to relax and maybe even
forget about time for a few minutes.

A cheaper version of this kind of clock is being sold by Ikéa. I happened to purchase my specimen a couple of months ago, for half-a-dozen euros, and I noticed recently that the same product is still being proposed in their Grenoble store for one-point-something euros. Who knows? Maybe, if you wait a while, Ikéa will get around to paying you to take one back home with you!

The plastic casing is pure Ikéa, whereas the time-keeping mechanism is pure Chinese. A nice tandem. And that's the way the fortune cookie crumbles. I really must offer this object as a gift to Corina, the next time I see her. I haven't had time [How could I, with such a device?] to analyze the product carefully, but I have the impression that the Chinese engineers have incorporated into their mechanism—no doubt for pure fun, like fireworks—some kind of incredibly miniature high-tech device for generating random numbers, which are then used to determine the slowing factor applied to the displayed time. On the other hand, a lot of the energy supplied by the clock's battery has been channeled by the Chinese engineers into the audio production of a huge once-a-second thud that is guaranteed to prevent anybody from sleeping in the same room as this extraordinary gadget.

Science historians might claim that Albert Einstein was the first genius to point out that space-time is "warped", as they say metaphorically. But Ikéa's Chinese clock manufacturers are the first people to provide us with a low-cost device for demonstrating this phenomenon in a down-to-earth daily and noisy manner.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your offer, William, but I already have a genuine digital Chinese Ikea clock in my kitchen.