Time literally flows
Rhei, a clock which is reflecting time flow, is an innovative product that has gained a lot of attention in media and on social networks during the last month. A young industrial and UX designer from Belgrade Damjan Stanković, our new mentor, who is responsible for the clock in which time literally flows, explains for ICT Hub how he made his idea come to life, what were the main obstacles and what are the future plans, as well as why it is worth it to dedicate yourself to your idea.
Damjan Stanković got his fifth “Red Dot award for creativity” this time for the conceptual design of the Rhei clock. He managed to combine creativity, chemistry and mechanics, areas which have always drawn him beside music and design, his area of profession for the last ten years.
Photo by Stefan Djakovic
IH: What is Rhei?
Damjan: Rhei is is a prototype of an electro-mechanical clock with a liquid display. It uses permanent magnets which are powered by stepper motors, and this way controls the ferrofluid in the screen. That is how numbers come up.
IH: Damjan, when did you start to love design?
Damjan: In essence, a love of design emerged at an early age as a love of drawing, although it was not the only passion. I was really attracted by mechanics, the way things work, and also music. I finished the piano at the music school “Stankovic” …. Toward the end of elementary school, I started to deal with the design, and throughout high school I already worked for clients as a graphic design. After a while I switched almost entirely to the interface design because it gave me the opportunity to work on how things work, in addition to purely visual aspect.
Photo by Stefan Djakovic
IH: Where did the idea for the name Rhei come from and what is the meaning?
Damjan: I let my girlfriend choice of name. However, I was very hard during this process because I insisted on the name of 4 letters, so that it can be shown on the clock. In fact I was limited with seven-segmented display, it is further aggravated choice because they can not display all letters, for example the type that can not be shown is M, Q, X, Z, and so on. Also, I wanted to have a meaning that has to do with the clock and liquids, but not too directly. We had to come up with a name that is not evident. In particular, I think that the name she have found is the ideal, and in fact it is the Greek word for “running” or “flow” from the famous sentence “Panta Rhei”.
IH: What was the path from idea to finished prototype?
Damjan: That path was terribly long with a little extra breaks. I started to deal with this project 3-4 years ago, and then I realized that this clock cannot work as I imagined then – simply to use electromagnets to move its liquid. More precisely, it could be made, but it spent a lot of electricity, and the numbers were not good looking at all – they were in separate parts. Then, I thought that it might be possible to do it mechanically, but I did not dare to go into all that. After about two or three years spent in two international startups, I decided to deal a little more with this project, and set out to learn everything that I needed for it to be achieved. After roughly nine months prototype was finished.
IH: What was your biggest challenge in development?
Damjan: Yes, it’s definitely a nice play on words on the topic of the hour and what he represents. I have from the start insisted that these numbers are compact whole, and to constantly move – in a way that does not reveal the “secret” of how they are doing at a glance. There’s been a lot of trouble, and when I started to deal with the mechanics. I knew that at some point we need the help of someone who is sufficiently understand the electronics you can make a printed circuit board for the existing mechanism. It’s just something you have to work for someone with a lot of experience and is not something that can be learned in a few months. When I came up with a solution with stepper motors, joined me Marko Pavlovic, and for a very short time made, first hand, the electronics that drives a number, and then has designed and printed circuit boards that have worked in China. Without him, this would not have happened so quickly I’m sure.
IH: What was the biggest challenge in development of Rhei?
Damjan: From the start I insisted that these numbers are compact, whole, and to constantly move – in a way that does not reveal the “secret” of how they are doing at a glance. There’s been a lot of trouble, especially when I started to deal with the mechanics. I knew that at some point I would need the help of someone who understand well in the electronics and who can make a printed circuit board for the existing mechanism. It’s just something you have to work for someone with a lot of experience and is not something that can be learned in a few months. When I came up with a solution with stepper motors, Marko Pavlović joined me , and for a very short time he made, first hand, the electronics that drives a number, and then he has designed printed circuit boards that we have assembled in China. Without him, this would not have happened so quickly I’m sure.
For example, to get a number that is whole, the magnets have to be very close, and because they themselves refuse to do so we need to make such a system that would keep them in the plane. And yet that should also allow such a small stepper motor to move them up and down and fight against magnetic field. There was altogether a lot of testing to come to the final prototype.
IH: What are your plans for the future of Rhei?
Damjan: We have two options, I go into production or to wait some foreign brand to take it, produce and work on the principle of the license. I think I’m leaning more towards the second option because I am currently devoted to another project, and I would not like to deal a lot with business part of this whole story.
IH: What would be your message to people who want to implement one of their ideas?
Damjan: Focus. I think people have a lot of ideas, and they need to realize it is very important to only focus on one of these. However, this is very difficult because we draw ideas constantly. Also, for me it was necessary to revise some priorities in life, and if I’m going to do full-time something like this it leaves little time for freelancing, and the money is needed for this project so it can be pushed to the end. After the prioritizing nothing is difficult because you deal with the fact that you will only spend money on the project, and not on something else.
Visit: Hello Rhei
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