Happy 35th birthday, Snake.
This past July 10th marked the 35th anniversary of the US release date for John Carpenter’s dystopian classic Escape From New York. It’s a great movie — one of my favorites, and a film that still evokes fond memories of the ‘80s…no doubt thanks to the greatest anti-hero of them all, Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell.
A few years ago the movie popped up on late night cable as it often does. I had tuned in just after Police Commissioner Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) offers Snake a full pardon in exchange for rescuing the President.
Hauk and his team have a major dilemma on their hands. Plissken is their best shot for getting the President out alive, but he’s also pretty much guaranteed to make a runner with the Gulfire and try to skip off to Canada. So they come up with a devious but ingenious way to guarantee he’ll fulfill his patriotic duty. Haul leads Snake into a lab for ‘anti-bacteria and viral-proof’ shots (bad move, Snake) and then proceeds to tell Snake that he’s got more problems than some pesky bacteria — two explosive capsules are now dissolving in his neck and maybe now he’s a little more motivated to complete the mission.
At this point in the movie, Hauk places a very unique wristwatch on Snake’s wrist. Well it’s not really a watch — it’s a countdown timer.
After months of research all I could find out was that the timer was just a prop — it wasn’t real — you never see the display come on from a wide shot of Snake — all of the shots where the watch is on and counting down are closeups. It’s believed that for these shots, a wire was run up the side of Kurt’s arm to a battery pack. The display itself was an oven kitchen timer stuffed into a piece of cast metal but there were plastic and rubber versions made as well.
I went looking for the prop online everywhere, but it doesn’t exist. A couple of replica units were floating around YouTube and eBay at one point but details about them were very sketchy. I thought: what if I just built one?
So I teamed up with the most awesome group of machinists, makers, designers, and software / electronic / hardware engineers — all sharing the same passion of rebooting Snake’s watch and making it real so we can actually put one on our wrist. Best of all — we’ve teamed up with Creative Licensing Corporation, one of the premier licensing agencies in the US to help us secure a license with the owner of the movie Studiocanal who shares our excitement and are fully behind us to do it right.
We’re launching a Kickstarter campaign on August 10, 2016 to raise funds to bring the Lifeclock One to production. It’s been an amazing journey of learning and discovery and we can’t wait to share it with you. We’ll be pulling back the curtain on all aspects of the project — the main enclosure precision machined from a solid piece of brass, the custom electronics powering a range of sensors, six fully custom 11-segment LEDs with a unique driving mechanism, and of course all the software needed to drive the experience — inside the watch and on your mobile device — yes, the LifeClock One isn’t just a timer — it’s a fully functioning watch that pairs with your smartphone for call, text and app notifications. We’re confident that we can convince you of a successful outcome and get you as excited about this unique wearable as we are.
We’re also going to be sharing a lot of detail about what we’ve learned. We’ve worked with local, domestic and international vendors and suppliers and we’ve discovered a ton about how the world of making stuff works. There are lots of conversations today about micro manufacturing as we’re excited to include our perspective in the hope that it will educated, enlighten or inspire other makers as well as learn what we could be doing better.
It’s an exciting time to be making stuff. 20 years ago I might have tried to make a light saber. Today there’s enough access and know how out there for just about anyone to put together a truly functional wearable device. As the big guns — Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola and others — launched their offerings, I’ve watched closely as other wearable projects have found a vibrant and loyal audience with an excitement around different ways to experience technology on your wrist: Pebble. Blocks. Misfit. These are inspirational companies, and indeed they have inspired us beyond measure.
We love the Lifeclock One because it’s a little different from the rest — a unique LED display that supports messages. A wide leather band with either a buckle or velcro strap — just like Snake wore in the movie. A huge form factor watch but still retro cool enough to wear in public. It crosses so many categories — fashion, wearables, movie memorabilia, cosplay — and we’re excited to see how people will respond. And just wait until you see the video we’ve been working on — fans of the movie are going to love it.
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