I have an idea for a clock face and hand movement that are quite different from anything I have seen. I will be building a prototype in the near future. This clock will basically be digital, but the hand movements will appear analog. The operation of the clock, and movement of the hands, will all be software driven. Will it be possible for me to copyright or patent my new clock’s look-and-feel?
If you mean that the analogue hands of the clock will be represented by LCD segments, it has been done already.
Is this kinda like the clock on my computer? I can choose whether I want it to appear as digital or analogue.
So, I would see what appears to be a mechanical movement - and IS a mechanical movement - but it derives it’s accuracy from digital time keeping?
There must be something I’m missing here; an analogue quartz timepiece derives its accuracy from the resonance of a crystal; this proposed clock would have the hands driven by [some kind of motors] controlled by software running on [some kind of computer], but the timekeeping accuracy of that computer is more than likely going to be driven by a quartz crystal clock.
There must be some compelling reason to add what seems to be a totally redundant computer.
If this is a mechanical clock face with hands then you can buy such a crystal controlled unit for less that about $3 on the web.
Check out the market before building a prototype!
Back in the late 1980s I had a Casio digital watch with LCD “hands”. You can see similar ones about a third of the way down this page. I think it’s been done.
You might still be able to copyright it, but as others have noted, it’s been done. I have the first of this type to be sold commercially (AFAIK), the Timex Illusion. Never seen a full-sized clock like this, though.
You might still be able to patent it if you have something novel, but as others have noted, it’s been done. I have the first of this type to be sold commercially (AFAIK), the Timex Illusion. Never seen a full-sized clock like this, though.
Thanks for the feedback guys and gals. My clock face and “hands” will be quite different from the LCD versions mentioned.
What I mean by digital is, the clock runs off a battery and uses a quartz crystal for time keeping, rather than mechanical motion and winding. In fact, there would be no mechanical motion. Of course software will have to be developed to transform the digital clock ticks into my new analog (probably LCD) display. I’m going to play around with developing the look-and-feel on my PC using VB before I actually try to build a stand-alone version. (Sorry if I am blathering a bit here, I’m quite tired at the moment.)
See, if I just develop the software to run on a PC, then the concept is probably worthless. Someone can copy the look-and-feel of my clock and duplicate it however they want (isn’t that essentially how Mr. Gates “innovated” Windows from Apple’s user interface?). So I’m thinking I will need a stand-alone clock before I could really protect it with patents, etc.
Yep. And it’s how Apple got their interface from Xerox PARC.
I’ve got an inexpensive pocketwatch one of the kids gave me once upon a time. It was like $10 at Wal-Mart. It has a battery that keeps the quartz time accurate to within seconds and … well you said it better,
Wal-Mart has a large selection of these watches at very reasonable prices. Maybe not exactly what you’re talking about either. I dunno :smack:
Well, digital usually means there’s a microprocessor; it has nothing to do with a quartz crystal (well, except that they also keep time for the processor). Many mechanical, analogue watches and clocks are quartz driven, but aren’t referred to as digital.
So… I’m guessing you’re looking to build a dot-matrix (bit-mapped) watch/clock based on any variety of cheap, commercial, digital counters (like in watches).
There’s probably prior art for this. There are watch-sized PDA’s, right? With WAClock, there’s your prior art.
My six year old Citizen Alarm Chronograph is microprocessor controlled, but has hands like an analog watch. Instead of driving an LCD, the processor just uses the hands to display stuff. It has a date function with a seperate dial forh the month, and that dial doubles as the minute counter when I’m using the watch as a stopwatch.
Most of the hands (there’s six of 'em) do double or triple duty, depending on the function selected - the second hand, for expample shows either seconds, the day of the month, or the on/off status of the alarm.
You pretty much have to read the user’s guide to be able to do anything with it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though.
An couple interesting things I found …
Excellent site about copyrights and patents:
The most impressive online clock I have seen:
The US Patent Office: (need to install a TIFF display plug-in for your browser)
Searching through the patent office, I haven’t found a clock “look and feel” like the one I have in mind. I certainly haven’t done an exhaustive though.
I’m not sure if I want to go through the trouble of making a prototype, or the expense of legal patent search and opinion (around $1500). I may just write a document on my idea and talk to one of the lawyers at baypatents.com.
You folks mentioned some parts and pieces that are available off-the-shelf. Any ideas where I can find these things? Maybe in a hobby shop? Thanks.
Depends on what you need. Some resources I’ve used from time to time:
[li]http://smallparts.com/ - small parts (duh)[/li][li]http://digikey.com/ - hobbyist electonic and electromechanical parts[/li][li]http://www.alliedelec.com/ - engineering electronics[/li][li]http://www.jameco.com/ - parts and tools[/li][li]http://www.controlled.com/mechpart.html - list of other parts suppliers[/li][/ul]