Visual Timer


Time management is an important element in cooking. And it can get very difficult when there are multiple things that run spontaneously and need to be kept tracked of. Even through some cooking devices have their own timer, it is still difficult to pay attention to all of them once the there are multiple devices running. In addition, the devices are usually located differently across the kitchen.  Beeping sound is a great reminder, but it is difficult again if the person is deaf and cannot rely on sound.


One of the solutions is to “combine” the timers and put it into one device. Then, using accessible visual element to make the information comprehensive.

The components of the timer.

This is a timer made of a 4 digit display, a task button, a rotatory button, and a neo-pixel wheel. It is a device that keeps track of the remaining time of different tasks.  Push the task button to add a timer for a task. Rotate the rotary button to adjust how many hours and minutes the task will last. The new-pixel wheel will light up and reflect the length of the time.Push the rotary button to confirm the time.

Later, simply push the rotary button to go through the tasks and check the remaining time. Again, the neo-pixel wheel will reflect the percentage of time remaining.  Different tasks are indicated by the color shown on the neo-pixel wheel.

When one of the task is done, the new-pixel wheel will roll in circle as a reminder.

But only color is not enough to indicate which task is been done. Therefore, besides the timer device, different colors of LED lights are placed next to the task in the kitchen as a reminder. Such lights are turned on and off manually when the task starts and ends. I think keeping the manual part of control the light can give the user more awareness of the ongoing tasks. There are two designs of such lights. One can sticks to any surface, and one can only be mounted on a specific location like a light bulb. Design 1 offers more flexibility while design 2 is more durable if the tasks or cooking devices are fixed.

The LED lights

Proof of Concept

I made a prototype of the timer on a breadboard. The button on top is the rotary button. The potentiometer represents the turning of the rotary button. And the buttom button is the task button to add new task. The displayed number is a little inconsistent because the potentiometer does not fit well into the breadboard.

In the following videos, I first add a task with its time. I then add another task with another time. Finally, I check the remaining time of the two tasks. The pause before the display of the remaining time of the task is due to the code that run for the neo-pixel wheel which is not used in this prototype.

Author: Zerui Huo

Hi I am a junior majoring in civil engineering. I would like to do a minor in physical computing. I like playing video games.

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