New versions of the most populars Spira-powered applications: BusClock and OutClock are out. Those versions work only with Java 5 (jre or plugin 1.5.x).

A SpiraClock SDK is no available to help you develop your own SpiraClocked apps Click here.

A SpiraClock-dedicated computer

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Yann-Gaël, a PhD student at École des Mines de Nantes, had the idea to dedicate one of his two computers for spira-displaying his bus schedules. When we took those pictures, he was wavering between finishing correcting his thesis chapter and catching the next bus to drink a beer at home.


SpiraClock is a new visualization technique for nearby events. Events are displayed inside an analog clock that can be also used as a regular computer clock. SpiraClock supplements traditional time-table or calendar displays by giving the user a continuous feedback on upcoming events. Compared to alarms and pop-up reminders, SpiraClock is far less intrusive and more informative.

Spiraclock was at the CHI 2002 conference. You can read the short paper published in the extended abstracts.

This page contains a tutorial on how to read and use SpiraClock, as well as a list of current SpiraClock applications. You can try SpiraClock applets by following the links in the SpiraClock Applications section.

How to read SpiraClock

SpiraClock uses a time spiral - the close future - and colored sectors to show events. The examples below show a blue event and a red event (say, an appointment and a meeting) inside the time spiral. Time spiral is read clockwise and from outside to inside. It begins at present time, represented by the current position of the minute hand.

Reading absolute times

The picture above shows how to read event starting and ending times. The clock shows 12:11. The blue event starts at 12:15 and ends at 12:22. The red one starts at 12:55 and ends at 13:40 : each revolution of the spiral is one more hour.

Reading relative times

This picture shows how to read event distances and event lengths. The blue events starts in 4 minutes and will last 7 minutes.

Using the angle between minute hand (the present) and a distant event, we can assess its distance in time. Here, the red event starts in about 45 minutes.

Using the same method, we can see that the red event will last 45 minutes.

When will the red event end ? End of red event is at the exact opposite of the minute hand, which suggests half an hour. We must add one hour for the spiral revolution: so, the red event will end in about one hour and a half.


Time spiral and events are continuously animated as time flows. Events stay aligned with minute marks, but they move from inside to outside and are more and more highlighted. Events that cross the minute hand rapidly fade out.

Hour coordinates frame

As we seen before, SpiraClock uses a minute coordinates frame display (one spiral revolution is 60 minutes). Spiraclock now supports a new hour coordinates frame display mode (one spiral revolution is 12 hours). This display mode will not be described here, however reading techniques are essentially the same.

How to use SpiraClock

Below are listed the ways you can interact with SpiraClock. You can try SpiraClock by following links in SpiraClock Applications section. Since SpiraClock v1.1c (applications only, not available in applets):

SpiraClock Applications

Here is a list of current SpiraClock applications (all downloadable for free) : Note: you can check for latest versions in the files section of the SpiraClock user group.

SpiraClock users group

Comments and feedback are welcome !

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Pierre Dragicevic

Stéphane Huot