July 30, 2012 at 7:47 PM ET
A team of students at the University of Munich has put together a working "Magic Clock" that shows the locations of certain people, much like the Weasley household's clock in "Harry Potter." It isn't actually enchanted, of course, and works by more prosaic Internet-age methods — but in practice it actually looks quite magical.
The clock is a repurposed grandfather clock they found on eBay, modified with gearing that allows four hands to rotate 360 degrees. They made their own face to replace its handsome brass one, with locations instead of times. Then they connected the clock to a microcontroller that would watch for updates on a server and turn the hands appropriately.
Unlike the Weasleys' clock, this one does not magically detect the location of its users, but must be updated via a special mobile app. You can update manually with one of the twelve locations provided, or let it track your position with GPS and choose a location based on that.
The students (Frederik Brudy, Fabius Steinberger, Felix Praschak and Claudius Böttcher) built it for a course in "Building Interactive Objects," and also made a very strange video to go along with it. They've documented the entire project on this webpage, where you can get all the information you need to replicate the clock, from circuit diagrams to server software.
via Hack A Day
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.