Construction of Time

One-week introduction to physical prototyping at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

Construction of time is a workshop about the representation of time through dynamic objects. We want to explore possibilities beyond the efficiency of a digital watch. Looking for new ways of interaction and setups communicating a different approach to time and timing.
— Tomek Ness

Together with Stephan Bogner and Kim Heller, I created experimental connected hourglasses.

Connected Hourglasses by Philipp Schmitt, Stephan Bogner and Kim Heller

We connected two hourglasses to the internet. Each device has two bowls, one for each of two users. The sand in the hourglass can be seen as a "time budget" that can flow between the users' bowls.

Once you flip a switch, the hourglass turns to your side and sand starts flowing into your bowl. You are “collecting” time.

Since the two devices are connected to the web, the other hourglass that can be anywhere on the world, turns too. That way, the two hourglasses always synchronize their state.

Where's the greater meaning in this thing? We're still looking for it, too.

Connected Hourglasses at Night. By Philipp Schmitt, stephan Bogner and Kim Heller

Technical Stuff

We used Arduinos to control the servo motors that turn the hourglass. The microcontrollers are connected via serial connection to a Processing sketch running on a Mac. It communicates with a PHP web application that writes to a MySQL database.

Connected Hourglasses, backside. Arduino Uno


Concept/Design/Development: Stephan Bogner, Philipp Schmitt and Kim Heller
Consulting: Tomek Ness
University: Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd