Arduino makers project - Shadowplay

Made with Arduino Mini 05

arduino Mini 05

Authors |


Imagine a simple ring of the light on the wall, but if you point your finger into the center, your own shadow becomes the clock hands. Fragile, transient, but present, like yourself.

Shadowplay was first presented to the public during this year edition of Vienna Design Week. It is the latest piece of non-commercial work of the BreadedEscalope team of designers. For them it was the conclusion of a summer dedicated to experiments with interaction design and micro controller programming. The team thinks that this project is a contemporary combination of crafts, technology and human interaction. It was important to them to keep that combination.Therefore, it is also an object that will surprise and affect people emotionally. This is something paramount in the BreadedEscalope’s work. They always try to create things, which encourage others and provide a different perspective beyond styling matters. That's why at the first sight this clock is just some ambient light on the wall... until you interact with it. Then it actually makes YOU the most important component of the whole concept. If you touch the wall in the centre of the ring, the clock will dim all the lights, but two spots will illuminate your index finger and make it cast two shadows, which resemble the clock hands. So your own shadow tells you time. You tell time!


What have you made?

We have built a shadow-clock hidden in a light ring. To find out the current time, you put a finger in the center of the light ring, and the shadows of it tell you the time. Like a sundial but in a small dimension.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

During my studies, I build a clock that only tells you the time when you interact with it. That clock was called "Your Clock“. It was a modified flip-clock using Arduino. The idea behind it was to design a clock that won’t “dictate” the time, but leaves the perception of it to the observer’s subjective experience. Therefore, I created a dysfunctional, inefficient, but very interactive and interesting object. It remains still until you pull the cord and update the display this way.

Link to the previous project:

What is the original idea behind this project?

The "Shadowplay Clock" is a more subtle approach to this idea; as there is no sound of falling plates, or the connotation of „Retro“, or the association to an Airport sign in it.

How does it work?

The ring is equipped with LEDs, and until you touch it, it’s just an ambient light object on the wall. When you put your finger in the center of the ring, 57 of the 60 LEDs will go off, and only 3 LEDs that are needed to show three hands of the clock (hour, minute, and second) will remain on. The second is instantly changing. We tried to differ the hour hand from the minute hand in several ways: with two different colors, with one shadow being longer than another one, with animation. We haven´t decide what is the best way yet.

How long did it take to make it real?

The development with mockups and prototypes took us around one month. We are still working on optimizing the wooden chassis, which means it is still not a finished product.

How did you build it?

It is made out of a CNC milled PlywoodRing, addressable LED strip, an Arduino Mini Pro, a RTC, a decoder with a button (to adjust brightness, time, etc.), an ultra sonic sensor, and some resistors.