Monday, February 20, 2012

Whatever happened to Swatch Internet Time?

This was supposed to be the next BIG thing in time. Swatch Company had a grand idea, to eliminate time zones altogether, to make the entire world run at according to the same time. New york, London, Moscow, Sydney would all be one time. This is not a new idea, of course, Sanford Flemming, a Scottish born Canadian engineer and inventor suggested a single 24-hour clock for the entire world, located at the center of the Earth and not connected to any surface meridian. It was at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute on February 8, 1879 he proposed that standard time zones could be used locally, but they were subordinate to his single world time, which he called Cosmic Time. Although this idea was rejected, his 24 hour clock preposition was excepted with hearty gusto.   I suppose Cosmic time was somewhat of a predecessor of Swatch Internet Time. Click here for more information of Time Zones

Almost 120 years later, Swatch Internet Time was promoted om October 23rd, 1998 at a Junior Summit. The Summit was attended by Nicolas G. Hayek, President and CEO of the Swatch Group. IN 1999 many watches were produced by Swatch with Swatch Internet Time as well as the standard time. Swatch even convinced CNN to utilize this method of time display as well as many online games such as Phantasy Star Online. The identical time zones while playing an Internet game would enable Japanese, European and American players to mingle on the same server. In March 2001 Ericsson released the T20e, a cellphone with provided the option for Internet Time Display.

The Swatch Internet Time is based on the decimal measure of time, not the metric. Instead of dividing the day in 24 hours with one hour equalling 60 minutes, the Internet Time divides the day into 1000 .beats. Each .beat is 1 minute and 26.4 seconds. The Internet Time uses a New Meridian known as the Biel Meantime (BMT) which is the universal reference for Internet time based on the company's headquarters in Biel, Switzerland. The new Meridian (opposed to the Greenwich Meridian) runs through Swatch's office in Biel.

A day in Internet Time begins midnight BMT @000 Central European Winter/Standard time which is UTC + 1 hour. Noon would be @500 .beats.

Advantages of Swatch Internet Time:
1) It uses the Decimal System instead of 24 hours, 60 minutes and 60 seconds which is three different units as opposed to one unit .beats.
2) .beat time is a no brainer @004 beats + @200 .beats = @204 .beat, where as with standard time adding the three units hours, minutes and seconds may get complicated.
3) No time zones.

Disadvantages of Swatch Internet Time:
1) A new Meridian is added, the Biel Meridian which replaces the Greenwich Meridian.
2) Swatch incorrectly uses mean time - The Biel Time is not at exactly 15 degrees east longitude, which should have been the case if the BMT is 1 hour ahead of UTC/GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
3) The second is replaced by .beats, which is not actually a second. The second is known world over as being the basic unit of time, to add .beats would cause much confusion.
4) The Internet Time seems more like a clever marketing ploy as people will turn to the Swatch Headquarters in Biel when determining the time of day.
5) No regard is made for night or day, and the normal human activities. With utilizing the Swatch Internet system, time distances itself from humanity, turning civilization, slaves to our technology.

Although Swatch is still marketing the Swatch Internet Time on their company website, and one is able to download the time to ones computer, the Swatch Internet Time has failed to take hold. Time is not tangible and to change the way we track time is to change the way we think. The Hour, minute and Second Standard Time System has serves us up till now and will continue to track our time hour by hour, minute by minute and second by second. I suppose in another 100 years another suggestion of universal time may crop up, but it seems the world turning on its axis ,longitude by longitude, creating night and day and dark and light, wins every time.

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