If You Could Build A Clock In World Of Goo…

[Orson Scott Card] once wrote “…time flows through all lives equally.” You have to wonder what he would think if he saw Rhei, a fluid clock that is part prototype, part dynamic installation, and part moving sculpture. The developers [Damjan Stanković], and [Marko Pavlović] say that time flows, and thanks to the fluid-based numerals on the clock face, that seems to be an appropriate tag line (if you can’t visualize it, check out the video below).

Purely from a design standpoint, the clock looks great. But it is the ferrofluid digits that mesmerize and doubtlessly helped Rhei win the 2015 Red Dot Award. We can’t help but think that if you could build a Minecraft-style clock in World of Goo, it might look something like this.

There isn’t a lot of detail about the internals of Rhei, but we covered Ferrolic about a month ago, which doubtlessly uses the same principle. [Zelf Koelman] (the maker behind Ferrolic) published a paper at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (PDF file) that describes the technology behind these hypnotic displays. You can even make your own ferrofluid. We’ve been a little preoccupied with clocks lately, but you have to admit, these clocks are attention grabbers at any time.

17 thoughts on “If You Could Build A Clock In World Of Goo…

  1. That’s pretty slick, and a very well produced video.

    Curious – any reason they opted for fixed magnets that you have to move as opposed to electromagnets? Given enough resolution, you could probably do a crazy amount of cool stuff.

    1. read the paper, they did use an array of electromagnets, but because electromagnets are analog in nature and the way ferrofluid works it seemed like the magnets moved.

      Also that was a very weird paper to read; I’ve never quite read such a merging of art crit and science before….it was a little jarring. It’s very hard to tell if it’s an art crit paper written by a scientist or a scientific paper written by an art critic…

    2. According to the discussion on hacker news the artist liked the way it looked better. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10284504) and also thought the solution was “not elegant” due to the constant power drain (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10284401). Also mentioned in that thread is Ferrolic (http://www.ferrolic.com/) which does use electromagnets and also provides better resolution (and does indeed do a crazy amount of cool stuff).

  2. Holy crap that video is pretentious. Macs! Some code happens! SANDING!?! DOO DEE DOO DEE DOO – (barely shows end result or appreciably displays the mechanics driving a mechanical 7-segment display).

  3. Great clock, but ….. “In practice this lifetime is expected to be a few months of full usage.” Yes, you are going to need to buy a new glass display with the fluid every few months.

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