REIMAG­INE TIME WITH NEW APP

CMU se­nior’s app of­fers a win­dow to world as the day passes

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Lauren Lind­strom

Todd Medema wants you to slow down and en­joy the view, even at the of­fice. The Carnegie Mellon Univer­sity se­nior cre­ated an app to reimag­ine the con­cept of time.

The World View Clock projects time-lapse photograph­y be­hind a dig­i­tal clock, show­ing users what iconic scenes around the world look like at the cur­rent time. It is avail­able in a free-stand­ing, tablet­like clock and in a smart­phone app.

The 21-year-old Oak­dale, Calif., na­tive said the idea for the prod­uct came af­ter ob­serv­ing that the con­cept of time has changed.

“We’ve started look­ing at time on this scale of min­utes,” he said. “Time orig­i­nally was based on the pas­sage of the sun: sun­rise, noon, sun­set.”

“So of­ten we’re stuck in an of­fice with­out a win­dow,” he said. “We don’t even know if the sun is still up be­cause the lights are on.”

The clock is meant for artis­tic en­joy­ment and to re­mind users the func­tion­al­ity of telling time can be beau­ti­ful. The screen re­freshes about once a minute with an im­age of what each scene looks like at the cur­rent time. View­ers can check the time over the course of the day and watch the sun rise and set.

For a por­ta­ble op­tion, users can down­load the app for a quick look at what the city looks like at the mo­ment they walk into an af­ter­noon meet­ing.

The project is part of Fab­ri­cate.IO, a startup Mr. Medema co-founded with fel­low Carnegie Mellon se­nior Scott Martin.

Three scenes are cur­rently avail­able on the World View Clock: Pitts­burgh; Austin, Texas; and Grand Te­ton Na­tional Park in Wyoming. San Fran­cisco and Jerusalem are in pro­duc­tion.

Mr. Medema plans to pho­to­graph New York, which he has tried to cap­ture but hasn’t been able to do be­cause of bad weather. He in­sists on clear days to get the best pho­tos and to pro­tect his equip­ment.

When de­cid­ing from what van­tage point to shoot, he looks for iconic im­ages as­so­ci­ated with the area. For Pitts­burgh, three things came to mind: rivers, bridges and Down­town. He chose Down­town so that view­ers can watch the shad­ows move across the build­ings and eas­ily mark the pas­sage of time.

It’s a lengthy process to put vast land­scapes on a smart­phone screen. A lo­ca­tion shoot lasts 24 hours. Bad weather and tech­ni­cal fail­ures can eas­ily halt an at­tempt. He’s had his share of adventures while out in the field.

At Yosemite Na­tional Park, on an ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful shoot, a bear am­bled into the shot, sit­ting 20 feet from him and his cam­era for more than an hour. He said he was con­cerned for his life at the time, but it now makes for a good story.

His cam­era takes one photo per minute, thanks to an au­to­mated de­vice called an in­ter­val­ome­ter. The re­sult is 1,440 shots over one day. The files from one scene usu­ally fill 20 gi­ga­bytes of data, larger than the ca­pac­ity of many iPhone mod­els. The files must be com­pressed to a size man­age­able for smart­phones and tablets. He is ex­per­i­ment­ing with tiered stor­age, where down­load­ers can choose to down­load 24 im­ages, and re­fresh one im­age per hour, to save space.

It’s a fit­ting fu­sion of art and in­no­va­tion for Mr. Medema, who cre­ated his own de­gree pro­gram at Carnegie Mellon and stud­ies tech­nol­ogy, en­trepreneur­ship and de­sign.

Mr. Martin, Fab­ri­cate.IO co-founder, said he’s ex­cited for the app’s po­ten­tial. “It’s a phe­nom­e­nally cool idea,” he said. “It shows time in a new, artis­tic way that we’re very proud of.”

The stand-alone clock costs $250 and can be pur­chased through the startup’s web­site, world­view­clock.com. The app is avail­able on An­droid sys­tems and will be avail­able for Ap­ple iOS next week. The first lo­ca­tion is free on both plat­forms. Ad­di­tional scenes on An­droid cost 99 cents, while a pre­mium World Trav­eler pack­age for iPhones will cost $1.99.

Mr. Medema will re­turn to Carnegie Mellon next year as a Fifth Year Scholar. He was cho­sen along with a hand­ful of se­niors to study out­side their de­gree field with full schol­ar­ship. He will study film­mak­ing and cre­ative writ­ing.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, Mr. Medema said he hopes to work on Fab­ri­cate.IO full time.

“It is our dream life­style busi­ness,” he said. “Work on things we are pas­sion­ate about and make money do­ing it.”

Ju­lia Rendle­man/Post-Gazette

Carnegie Mellon Univer­sity stu­dent Todd Medema, 21, has de­vel­oped an app that al­lows users to see time in a new way.

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