Whoever said that engineers aren’t fashion conscious clearly wasn’t thinking of David Ng, a mechanical engineer and founder of Cnaptic, a company that develops STEM-based programs using emerging technologies. Ng has recently developed a wrist watch that makes quite a fashion statement. The watch, which has a seven segment LED display in traditional bitmap style rectilinear numbers, is contained in a 3D printed case and wristband. The display of the watch is controlled by a 3-axis motion sensor that triggers the lights when the watch is held up to be read and turns them off again when the user’s wrist is lowered again.
The watch case and the band were printed as a single piece. The display was created with the addition of a real time clock module and is powered by a USB powerbank. The electronics are controlled by an Arduino board which is not surprising since the inspiration to create the watch actually came to Ng while attending an Arduino workshop organized by the local chapter of the IEEE Women in Engineering in Victoria, Australia.
The second round of inspiration was added by Ng’s wife, who suggested the addition of an alcohol sensor. Ng imagined a scenario in which a local tradesperson might finish up her/his last drink and check their watch to see if it was time to head in for the night. Looking at this wrist watch would remind her/him to do a quick breath check just to make sure they were truly in a condition for driving. A quick exhale can be checked, and if the content of their breath is too saturated, an alarm sounds alerting the user that it might be best to call a cab.
The only downside of this watch is its sheer size. You’ve got to have at least four or five inches of forearm to devote to the device. And the band is really more of a gauntlet, but who is to say that isn’t the latest fashion? It’s not just a watch…it’s also an arm workout!
Unfortunately, the workout could end in a sprint as you are chased out of public buildings or off of public transportation by the police who have noticed a striking similarity between the watch and a Wily E. Coyote type bomb timer. The timepiece is definitely a conversation piece; Ng himself has found himself the subject of additional attention when wearing it in public.
“I got a comment on the train asking it this was a bomb that was strapped to my wrist,” Ng noted. “I think the toolbox I was also carrying may have added to that impression. Good think I wasn’t arrested with my face on the floor when I got off the train.”
So, if you are already the kind of person who is randomly selected for baggage searches in a way that calls the randomness of such an event into serious question, this probably isn’t the watch for you. It doesn’t seem likely that Ng made this with the idea that it would be commercially viable or even particularly wise to wear, but simply for the love of making.
Now that’s refreshing.
Do you see potential in a design like this? Let us know what your thoughts are on this idea in the 3D Printed Watch and Breath Test forum thread over at 3DPB.com.