Skylight Clock




Zeshu Zhu


MadMapper, javascript/HTML/CS, Product Design, Fusion360, Arduino IoT

Walking to Brooklyn Bridge Park to catch the sunset is one the few things that allow me to take a breath from the busy New York life. Time seems to stand still when the warm sunset cast a wide spectrum of colors to the sky. The colors of the sky are transient, and that’s why I want to capture them through the clock and emphasize its relationship with time.

The light intallation imitates the sky colors, captures the moments and brings calmness to the clock, a device that is often seen as a source of stress. This project is exhibited in ITP Spring Show 2022.


Besides the dynamic mixing of the sky, this project is also inspired by the reflective shadow clock form Breaded Escalope studio and my favorite Triwa cloud watch. Both projects use the ephemeral quality of light to present new sensory experiences with time.


The interaction system is built upon wireless communication through wifi, and we use a web server to bridge  between the camera and the clock, as well as monitor the connections and add addtional control to the clock. Camera captures a photo every 1h.

Web Server

To build a usable cross-platform experience, the web experience allows users to:
  • Connect and check the connection status of connected devices;
  • Display picked colors;
  • Display the 24h history of captured photos to visualize changes;

Given our technical capability, there are potentials for the web experience to be more intuitive and engaging.

Digtial Prototyping

We used Arduino Nano IoT 33 for the clock and ESP32-CAM for the capture device. We fixed a few issues -
  • Gamma correction to make sure lighting istrue to the displayed colors;
  • Since updating from RTC is consuming, we only update the LEDs when we detect a change in values in rtc values;
  • we used event handlers to listen to different events, which makes the code much simpler and easier to execute a wide ranges of actions


We designedthe inner diameter of the front ring thinnerto better hide the led strips. We also minimized the connections by removing unnecessary components and fit the wires into a small chip. To fabricate the back lighting for second hand, we designed our own modular PCB ring to ensure secure connection.