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The Timekeeper: 3D printed marble machine

The Timekeeper

What if you could predict what song you will be listening in the future? Moreover, what if you could save into a marble until that future?

That is what Domestic Data Streamers, a design and communication firm that works bringing emotions into data, simplifying complex information did in collaboration with Spotify last year, during the Sonar Music Festival in Barcelona.

The Timekeeper is a device that, based in user’s Spotify preferences, chooses a song curated specifically for them and sends in to a future date of their choice. The participant’s listening habits are blended with their behavioural habits and the resulting song is then inserted “metaphorically” in a glass marble which is kept inside the Timekeeper until the chosen special moment arrives. The marble is finally released on that date.

Data acquired by the Timekeeper during the Sonar Music Festival 2016 showed that, although the 87% of participants looked for new experiences in life, the vast majority (59%) were conservative in the way they listened to music, feeling more comfortable with popular trends rather than experimenting new tendencies.

Photo: Pep Avila
Photo: Pep Avila

The Timekeeper also recorded that people were more open to listening to new types of music while experiencing a happy moment (even if said moments were placed in the future), setting a direct link between music and happiness.

Using 3D Printing for a functional prototype

The Timekeeper is a groundbreaking machine able to work with 1500 marbles at the same time, with 200 of them moving inside it. A part of glass and metal and of course the marbles, it has more than 150 3D printed parts.

This unique machine, contains a vast exhibition of mechanisms: from gears, to automated doors that give pass to the marbles when needed. It is a great example of the power of 3D printing when building a functional prototype with a limited budget and no invest in tooling.

3D Printing permitted to iterate the design easily, especially when trying to fit parts into glass structures made by hand.

Collaboration with BCN3D

All the parts were printed in the BCN3D Sigma, using more than 30 kg of PLA, Colorfabb XT and flexible materials. Some of these parts had a long printing volume with 30 to 40h. It also contains examples of bi-material parts, combining rigid and flexible materials to fit the parts into glass softly and safely.

Photo: Pep Avila

Although Domestic Data Streamers owns 4 BCN3D Sigma in its facilities in Barcelona, BCN3D Technologies collaborated by printing some of the parts needed in the project. The Timekeeper implied more than 6000h in printing time, and more than 10 BCN3D Sigma were involved in the project.