We are used to those cool LCD clocks now. They are either too normal that you just ignore their existence in daily life, or have exaggerated fancy patterns and colors that make you confused and wonder what time it is when you look at them. But now, a black-and-white clock may beat them all — a ferrofluid clock called “Ferrolic”, designed by industrial designer Zelf Koelma.
What is Ferrofluid?
A ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field.The oily substance is a mixture of nanoscale magnetic particles – each coated with a surfactant to reduce clumping – and some solvent (usually water). Because of its unique properties, ferrofluid has inspired countless projects over the years, from shape-shifting mirrors for telescopes, to magnetic drug-targeting for cancer patients.
From Ferrofluid to Ferrolic
But now, industrial designer Zelf Koelman has dreamt up another use for ferrofluid: addictive desk toys like the Ferrolic “living clock”. The inner spirit of the idea is similar to the ones in traditional Chinese ink painting and Chinese Kung Fu — that is, the nature of the universe and the philosophy at the highest level can be described in the simplest form. In order to simulate the droplet-like effect, the designer tried a variety of materials and chose ferrofluid in the end to be the one that met his needs.
“A few years ago I fell in love with the magical characteristics of a little black ‘blob’ in a bottle,” he says. “One could manipulate the position and shape of a floating drop of ferrofluid with a magnet. The dynamics and shape of this liquid body was much like a living entity. I decided to allow this entity to live its own life and have a function. A year of research and engineering eventually resulted in Ferrolic.”
( Ferrofluid magnetic bottle that Koelman mentions )
The first available Ferrolic displays will have an aluminum frame. Behind the front glass panel is a thin basin, which Koelman compares to an aquarium in which ferrofluid can swim freely. Behind the basin, powerful electromagnets move through various programs, picking up the material, and moving it around for your viewing pleasure.
“The software behind these electromagnets, and thus the shapes and information displayed, can be edited,” explains Koelman. “Ferrolic is controlled by an intelligent internal system that is accessible trough a web-browser. In this way users can assign ‘the creatures’ to display time, text, shapes and transitions.” Experienced techies can even create animations from their own custom shapes.
Trend and Cost
According to Koelman, Ferrolic is still in ongoing development and its first prototypes are currently been tested. It is not yet commercialized and is expected to be produced in only small batches for now.
( Trends of keyword "Ferrolic" and "Ferrofluid Clock" in Google Trend )
So, what does a Ferrolic cost? The display itself will run you as much as about $8,352.30 (7,500 euros), give or take a few hundred depending on your choice of frame.
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