Anyone with even the vaguest understanding of the theory of relativity knows that time isn’t a fixed construct. How you experience time depends on what you’re doing –whether you’re sitting around, or moving at near light-speed. Your perception of time also depends on what you’re doing in a more mundane way, like whether you’re playing video games or sitting in a meeting. The TicTocTrac watch aims to help you learn more about that second kind of time warping. Also, like any good watch, it also tells time.
The watch, a DIY project by Cornell students Brian Schiffer and Sima Mitra, works by giving you the opportunity to guess how long you think it took to do something. Whether you overestimate or underestimate, and by how much, illustrates how your perception of time is skewed. Say, for instance, you’re about to wash the dishes. You can set the TicTocTrac watch to go into monitoring mode for a set period of time, during which it won’t display the time on its face. When you’ve finished your task (presumably before the monitoring timer runs out) you estimate about how long you think the activity took.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. TicTocTrac will keep track of all these little tests, so that over time you build a library of data that tracks the fluctuations in your perception of time over a day, or a week. For an example, you can take a look at the data from one of the guys who designed the watch. It’s a little hard to understand at first, but just the fact that it exists is fascinating.
The project’s documentation is incredibly throrough, and all the schematics are available if you’re the kind of person that might build your own. On the tech side, the watch is pretty impressive for a DIY project, including a vibration motor and a micro SD card slot. If you want to know more, the documentation will tell you more than you ever thought there was to know.
It’s interesting, but beware, your perception of time might speed up a little if you read it all the way through.
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