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TWELV - a new way to display time

TWELV - a new way to display time
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October 12, 2006 There’s always a better way, but sometimes the scale of the change required to do it differently is several orders of magnitude too big. We suspect that was why Professor Richard Conn Henry’s proposal of an unquestionably better calendar and time system was never seriously considered. Fortunately, Inventerprise’s new way to display time can co-exist with current time systems. The newly patented TWELV system breaks from centuries-old tradition, dispensing altogether with the use of any hour hand or hour digit. Instead, each individual hour of the day is represented solely by one of twelve unique colors.

There are some undeniable benefits for the new system though, as it requires a footprint less than half that of standard time format, the colors can be recognized correctly at great distances. It means that one clock beacon could be used as a clock in a city environment. Similarly, ambient lighting or a water fountain or a fishtank can become a clock … and the killer-app is that the footprint for the time display is MUCH smaller than conventional time displays either digital or analog, making it ideal for mobile phones, wearable audio players, and other mobile devices where display space is always at a premium. As for memorizing the colors, just start using the clock and it happens naturally; that's just how the human brain works. The system is patented in the United States, but it’s public domain everywhere else.

Without doubt, the factor which is most likely to drive the adoption of the new TWELV time format is that it requires much less display monitor space than conventional formats. This smaller footprint makes TWELV ideal for use on mobile phones, portable consumer electronics, head-mounted displays, wristwatches, and other wearable computing and communications devices. The colors can also be correctly recognized from much greater distances than can individual numerals or clock hands

In some TWELV embodiments, the minute hand or digit is also eliminated. Instead, a moon serves as the minute indicator, waxing from a slender crescent at the beginning of an hour to a full orb at the end. This embodiment also allows virtually any other monochromatic image -- such as a company logo, a silhouette, or a musical note -- to serve as the minute indicator.

The first prototype of the moon-based Tjalsma embodiment of TWELV, designed by Christopher Tjalsma can now be seen here.

“The color-to-hour matrix for the current TIKR hybrid demo can be seen here,” inventor Shelton Harrison told Gizmag. “The Tjalsma (moon-based) prototype uses a different scheme, and I'm still waiting for the graphic that lays all twelve colors out side by side.”

“We have not settled on a single color-to-hour matrix yet because we are gathering consumer feedback and working on color theory.

“We’ve put both prototypes on the web site and we’re getting great feedback as to what works, so we can come up with the best system – bear in mind that both systems and regular traditional time can all coexist.”

“Colors have a whole lot of implications on a both a physical level, as in which colors are easy to distinguish from each other, and a psychological level, as red might be disconcerting or alarming, as well as aesthetic considerations,” said Harrison.

“Primarily, the system will find use in mobile applications,” says Harrison who worked in the field of wearable computing more than a decade ago. “It uses only half the space of a normal display or even less, so it’ll be very useful for a cell phone a PDA or a head-mounted display will find it useful.

The use of colour as an hour indicator means it can be used in such things as a water fountain into a clock by changing the colour of the lighting. It can be seen from very long distances – so if you’re at the beach, you could use lights or flags. You can also use a colour clock underwater when you can’t read numerals.”

Watches and clocks based on the TWELV system, including the Tjalsma (moon-based) design and the hybrid TIKR design, which provides minute but no hour digits, are expected to be made available commercially in two to four years. All TWELV displays also include an override feature, allowing users to display time in standard 4-digit format if needed.

In terms of the system’s patent protection, Harrison had this to say. “The patent has only been filed in the United States, so anyone outside the US can use the system and we wouldn’t wish to stop them. I’m a full time inventor, and this is what I do, so I have to get a patent in one place and hopefully some time over the next 17 years, we’ll find a good licensing arrangement or manufacture the product ourselves.”

“Anybody who wishes to use the system, or wishes to work with us, should email me here.”

See the patent for a more detailed discussion.

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