Using sineclock

If you spend enough time in a place, you will begin to know the patterns of that place - the sun and moon, traffic, tides, smells, faces, sounds. sineclock presents an aural pattern - the interaction of three sets of sine waves - representing the time of day.

turn me on, sineclock

sineclock requires a high quality USB power source. A powered USB hub or a name brand phone charger are good options. Avoid super inexpensive ($2) USB chargers -- they work for charging devices, but aren't up to powering sensitive electronics. Simply plug a micro USB cable into the back of the sineclock and then into the power adapter. The display should light up and blink twice, then sineclock should start humming and the display will show the currently set time (midnight at startup).

sineclock controls

sineclock has a simple interface: three brass touch controls and a clockface display. Gently touch any of the controls momentarily and the display will light up and show the current time. Touch and hold to activate a control.

The two buttons on the right side are volume up and down. sineclock is meant to be quiet. If you hear distortion, or a loud clicking sound, you should probably turn it down a bit. If you need a break from the sound, just turn the volume all the way down and sineclock will keep track of the time for you without making a peep.

The button under the display is for setting the time. Gently press and hold the button and the light will start moving clockwise around the 12 hour clockface. You set the time by moving the light like the hour hand on an analog clock. When one light is fully on it's right on the hour. When two lights are equally bright it's at the half hour. If you press the button quickly you'll find that there are twelve light positions each hour, giving you five minute increments to set the time. AM and PM are distinguished by the color of the display. Noon is bright yellow, midmight is blue.

The display will remain lit for a few seconds after you adjust the settings, then it will go dark.

Demo video coming soon, I promise!

sineclock theory

sineclock encodes the time of day using three sets of sine waves. One wave in each set is static (sounding at 200Hz, 300Hz and 450Hz (two stacked perfect 5ths)), while the other wave is detuned slightly (0-5Hz) based on the time. For the lowest tone, the detuned wave moves from 200Hz to 205Hz and back in one minute. The middle tone moves from 300Hz to 305Hz and back in one hour. The highest tone moves from 450Hz-455Hz and back in one day.

When two sound waves are tuned very close to each other (let's say within 20Hz), you don't hear two distinct tones - instead you hear a "beating" effect, at a rate determined by the difference in frequency between the two waves. So for the first set of waves, at 0 seconds there will be no beating (200Hz-200Hz = 0Hz), while at 30 seconds there will be beating at 5Hz (205Hz-200Hz = 5Hz). By listening for the beats in each set of waves you can get an idea of where they are in their cycles - and what time it is. Most people have no trouble hearing how the low tones change over the course of sixty seconds. The minutes and hours are much more difficult to hear, but don't despair! sineclock believes in you.