Swatch Internet Time

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Swatch Internet Time was a decimal time concept introduced in 1998 and marketed by the Swatch corporation as an alternative, decimal measure of time. One of the goals was to simplify the way people in different time zones communicate about time, mostly by eliminating time zones altogether.


[edit] History

Swatch Internet Time was announced on October 23, 1998, in a ceremony at the Junior Summit '98 attended by Nicolas G. Hayek, President and CEO of the Swatch Group, G.N. Hayek, President of Swatch Ltd., and Nicholas Negroponte, founder and then-director of the MIT Media Lab. During the Summit, Swatch Internet Time became the official time system for Nation1, an online country created and run by children.

During 1999, Swatch produced several models of watch that displayed Swatch Internet Time as well as standard time, and even convinced a few websites (such as to use the new format. The clock applet in the GNOME desktop can be set to display time in this manner. PHP's date() function has a format specifier 'B' which returns the Swatch Internet Time notation for a given time stamp. It is also used as a time reference on ICQ, and the online role-playing game Phantasy Star Online has used it since its launch on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000 to try to facilitate cross-continent gaming (as the game allowed Japanese, American and European players to mingle on the same servers). In March 2001, Ericsson released the T20e, a mobile phone which gave the user the option of displaying Internet Time. Outside these areas, however, it appears to be infrequently used.

In early 1999, Swatch began a marketing campaign based around the launch of their Beatnik satellite for a set of Internet Time watches. However, they were criticized for planning to use an amateur radio frequency for promotional purposes, and the satellite never made any broadcasts.[1]

[edit] Description

[edit] Beats

Instead of hours and minutes, the mean solar day is divided up into 1000 parts called "beats". Each beat lasts 1 minute and 26.4 seconds.

Although Swatch does not specify units smaller than one beat, third party implementations have extended the standard by adding "centibeats" or "sub-beats" as a decimal fraction, for extended precision: @248.00.[2][3]

[edit] Time zones

There are no time zones; instead, the new time scale of Biel Mean Time (BMT) is used, based on the company's headquarters in Biel, Switzerland. Despite the name, BMT does not refer to mean solar time at the Biel meridian, but is equivalent to Central European Time and West Africa Time or UTC+1.

Like UTC, Swatch Time is the same throughout the world. For example, when the time is 875 beats, or @875, in New York, it is also @875 in Tokyo: 0.875 × 24 hours = 21:00 BMT = 20:00 UTC

Unlike Civil time in most European countries, Internet Time does not observe daylight saving time and thus it matches Central European Time during (European) winter and Western European Summer Time, which is observed by the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and the Canary Islands (Spain), during summer.

[edit] Notation

The most distinctive aspect of Swatch Internet Time is its notation; as an example, "@248" would indicate a time 248 beats after midnight, equivalent to a fractional day of 0.248 CET, or 4:57:07.2 UTC.

No explicit format was provided for dates, although the Swatch website formerly displayed the Gregorian calendar date in the order day-month-year, separated by periods and prefixed by the letter d (d31.01.99).

[edit] Usage

Swatch released a range of digital watches, displaying both the standard 24-hour clock as well as Universal Internet Time. There also exist Internet Time converters for PCs, Macintosh, and PDAs. Mobile phone manufacturer Ericsson also released a range of WAP capable mobile phones that also showed Universal Internet Time.[4]

Phantasy Star Online, a video game, uses beat time.

Swatch offers the concept on its website, but no longer markets 'beat' watches.

[edit] References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Universal Internet Time; created on [2001-03-15]; retrieved on [2007-12-23]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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