People have been using the sun to tell the time since life began, but few ever expected that system to be worthy of an upgrade. Step forward a French engineer, going under the name of Mojoptix, who has created a digital sundial that expresses the time digitally, casting numbers into its own shadow. The principle behind it is rather simple: treating the sun as a backlight for a series of analog pixels that are calibrated to precise angles. As our nearest star passes along the sky, it pours through the holes that correspond to the readout for that time. So, when it’s 10:00am, you’ll be able to see 10:00am projected onto the table below.
The system isn’t without limitations, since it’ll only work between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. In addition, it can only tell the time in 20 minute intervals, so you won’t be ditching your oven timer for this unit any time soon. If you want one, then you’re in luck, because Mojoptix sells them on his Etsy store — although since it takes 35 hours to manufacture each one, be prepared for a long wait. If, however, you have your own 3D printer and some spare time, the engineer has helpfully open-sourced the plans, so you can knock one up at home if that’s preferable. Oh, and watch the 15-minute tutorial video to watch the device in action and learn more about how it’s created.Engadget