Analysis

The pen that is dimensioning

2nd November 2016
Anna Flockett

A pen sounds much easier to transport around than a bulky old tape measure. Thanks to Mladen Barbaric and his company InstruMMents, we may soon be familiar with a pen that measures instead of our traditional tape measure. The InstruMMent 01 was created by Barbaric, an industrial designer behind Misfit Shine, and his team who were sick of tape measures and their awkwardness.

This multi-purpose device works like a handheld surveyor’s wheel but looks just like a pen.

It comes in three versions, a stylus, pencil and roller-ball pen, with the front being analogue it writes as well as you would expect a normal pen to. The black rubberised ring that circles the top of the pen simply rolls across any surface and takes measurements that are accurate to within 0.1mm. A laser then helps you see visually where the measurement starts and finishes.

Barbaric stated that originally it wasn’t obvious to make the object roll. He said: “It took us a little while to figure out what the optimal form factor was.”

The 01 is worked with a Bluetooth smart system that allows you to connect it to your mobile device, and is carved in aluminium and steel. The laser has up to a six month battery life, and it has pressurised ink refill.

The mechanism inside that makes it work is undoubtedly very clever; however it is mechanically simple so that it won’t easily break. It works with an app, so once you click the ‘on’ button on the pen, the laser is projected which will show you exactly where the measurement is being created. As the pen rolls a magnetic gear counts the revolutions and on the app it is shown how far the pen’s been rolled.

With the app you specify whether you want to measure the height, width or depth. This pen also goes further than working as a tape measure; you can capture the dimensions of any object, curved or straight and send this wirelessly to your phone where it is then shown as a card with a photo and description.

The app will also let you convert units and translate the scaled quantities on a map or drawing to real-world units. Additionally you can program the laser to blink at predetermined augmentations to help space out measurements.

Barbaric points out that there’s a problem not only with how we capture measurements in the world, but in how we then use that data, he designed the 01 to make life easier for designers.

With the idea ‘This is dimensioning’ being the running factor the measuring pen does what it set out to do, however a lot of precision time and effort went into the production of the 01, such as the option to have your signature engraved on the pen and the German made in cartridges with twist mechanisms.

The tool does pack its usefulness and functionality into a compact, small attractive object, and the 01 has sensors inside of it that will allow for entirely new features to be released after people buy it. This means that this is most definitely the beginning for InstruMMents as Barbaric added: "Once we started talking about how crappy all these tools are, we started to realise this isn’t just a product, it’s a whole company."

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