The Future Is Here
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Someone Used a Robot to Fix the Biggest Problem With Sun Dials: the Sun

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Build a better mousetrap, and they say the world will beat a path to your door. But the artists at Studio AATB probably shouldn’t expect much foot traffic after finding a way to use a wall-mounted robot arm to improve one of the oldest ways we have to tell time: the sun dial.

Because our timekeeping is based on the movements of our solar system, it’s hard to find a more accurate way of telling time than the sun. It’s just unfortunately incredibly unreliable. All it takes is an errant cloud for a sun dial to stop working, which is why we’ve had to invent complex machines and electronics to instead keep tabs on the minutes and seconds that govern our day. With Sunny Side Up, the sun dial is made useful again, because it’s the sun itself that’s been replaced with modern tech.


The robotic arm has been programmed to precisely rotate around a metal bar sticking out of a wall while a high-intensity LED light on the end produces a shadow that represents the hour of the day. To represent sunrise and sunset, the most important times of the day back when sun dials were in prevalent use, the LED also slowly dims and brightens in the evenings and morn.


The art piece doesn’t make sun dials any easier to read. If you’ve got an appointment at 11:45am exactly, you’ll still want to rely on your watch. But had our ancestors had access to robotic arms, they would have never missed a meeting on overcast days.

[Studio AATB via Prosthetic Knowledge]