Damjan Stankovi?, user-experience designer at LinkedIn, is currently in the prototyping phases of his modern, electro-mechanical clock with a liquid display, Rhei. The device, which Stankovi? brought to life in collaboration with independent product designer Marko Pavlovi?, is intended to capture the idea that time has a continuous and rhythmic flow.

Described as an "animated sculpture" or "animated art", Rhei is the result of a one-year passion project and is already a recipient of the Reddot design award.  Finding a middle ground between the analog and digital scopes, it relies on a magnetic liquid known as ferrofluid to work. As the clock operates, electricity causes the ferrofluid to flow into specific, activated areas of the clock face. Those activated areas change as time elapses, resulting in the formation of all the recognizable digits as needed.

Other products, such as the Ferrolic by Zelf Koelman, have held ferrofluid displays. Rhei is different, however, in that Stankovi? simplifies the concept, limiting the space in which the ferrofluid can move and concentrating on the ability to create numbers. That matters for you as a consumer because it means Rhei likely will be easier and less expensive to make on a mass scale, translating into a significantly lower price tag.

Rhei also drives home an important paradox for would-be entrepreneurs: The foundation of most innovation isn't newness or complete originality. It's simply the ability to transform or improve the old into something that can meet the demands or expectations of the modern market. To be more specific in regard to Rhei, NASA scientists have known about and worked with ferrofluid since the 1960s, and the field of electromagnetics has been around for almost two hundred years. But Rhei works because Stankovi? applies electromagnetism and ferrofluid with a fresh, artistic take to something everyone uses today, creating an entirely new standard for what a clock is supposed to look like and do. You can use the exact same technique to set your own products or services apart, although you should be prepared, like Stankovi?, to spend months or even years getting your concept fully ready.

For now, Stankovi? is still examining just how practical it is to produce Rhei for the general public. If you want to be sure you get your model if and when it does hit the market, visit Stankovi?'s website, www.hellorhei.com.