Free Online Timer

A timer is a specialized type of clock used for measuring specific time intervals. Timers can be categorized into two main types. A timer which counts upwards from zero for measuring elapsed time is often called a stopwatch, while a device which counts down from a specified time interval is more usually called a timer. A simple example of this type is an hourglass. Working method timers have two main groups: Hardware and Software timers.

Most timers give an indication that the time interval that had been set has expired.

Time switches, timing mechanisms which activate a switch, are sometimes also called "timers".

Mechanical timers

Mechanical timers use clockwork to measure time. Manual timers are typically set by turning a dial to the time interval desired; turning the dial stores energy in a mainspring to run the mechanism. They function similarly to a mechanical alarm clock; the energy in the mainspring causes a balance wheel to rotate back and forth. Each swing of the wheel releases the gear train to move forward by a small fixed amount, causing the dial to move steadily backward until it reaches zero when a lever arm strikes a bell. The mechanical kitchen timer was invented in 1926 by Thomas Norman Hicks. Some less accurate, cheaper mechanisms use a flat paddle called a fan fly that spins against air resistance; low-precision mechanical egg-timers are sometimes of this type.

The simplest and oldest type of mechanical timer is the hourglass, in which a fixed amount of sand drains through a narrow opening from one chamber to another to measure a time interval.

Software applications

Nowadays when people are using more and more mobile phones, there are also timer apps that mimic the old mechanical timer, but which have also highly sophisticated functions. These apps are also easier to use daily, because they are available at once, without any need to purchase or carry the separate devices, as today timer is just a software application on a phone or tablet. Some of these apps are countdown timers, stopwatch timers, etc. These timer apps can be used for tracking working or training time, motivating children to do tasks, replacing an hour glass in board games, or for the traditional purpose for tracking time when cooking and baking.

Apps may be superior to hour glasses, or to mechanical timers. Hour glasses are not precise and clear, and they can jam. Mechanical timers lack the customization that applications support, such as sound volume adjustments for individual needs. Most applications will also offer selectable alarm sounds.

Some timer applications can help children to understand the concept of time, help them to finish tasks in time, and help them to get motivated. These applications are especially used with children with special needs like ADHD, Down syndrome, etc., but everybody else can also benefit from them.

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