What is the one thing most domestic “conversational” computers, like the Apple HomePod, don’t do? Show the time. They’ll tell you the time, if you ask nicely. But showing it like an old-fashioned clock – a neat idea, I think you’ll agree – is not among their skills. Due to the lack of clocks chez moi, finding the time when I don’t have my mobile phone at hand can take longer than in 1958. Here is the latest version of an amusing and practical “solution” from a Ukrainian/British startup called Smart Atoms. The LaMetric has been around in a quiet way since 2014, but has been given a recent boost by Paris venture capital funder/retailer The Hardware Club and its brilliant Harrods pop-up store.
LaMetric is a WiFi-connected digital clock that can be programmed by a phone app to perform an array of tasks, from displaying messages and social media notifications to giving the weather forecast or flashing up key stock prices. It’s also a Bluetooth speaker and can be set to wake you up with your favourite digital radio station. The gimmick – a cool one – is that LaMetric displays information to you via a blocky, scrolling 1980s-style, eight-bit LED display. A brilliant, if geeky, desktop, kitchen, living room or bedside clock – or shop window display unit.