Design geeks and tech junkies know a handy gadget when they see one. The devices below—which range from a 3D modeling sensor mounted on mobile device to a kinetic sphere that twists and turns—not only fulfill the urge to tinker but also may help users design. Did we omit your favorite gizmo? Let us know in the comments section below.
Designed for mobile devices, the Structure Sensor from software maker Occipital can measure space in three dimensions, capturing everything from single objects to whole rooms. An open SKD file makes possible open-sourced development of modeling and augmented-reality mobile apps. The sleek hardware attaches to a tablet or mobile phone and uses that device’s camera function in tandem with its own depth sensor to create wireframe-mesh and color 3D models that can be exported for further development. The device doesn’t require external power.
From New York-based Proxy Design Studio, this 3D printed sphere of interlocking gears and internal supports can help keep the hands and brains occupied. Mechaneu #1, writes ARCHITECT’s senior technology editor Wanda Lau, pairs 32 external gears with 32 internal ones, which activate upon manually twisting the object shell. The 3D-printed trinket’s form is derived from biomimetic algorithms based on cells’ growth patterns while its insides emulate the mechanisms of a wristwatch. “It taps into a fundamental desire to see our actions multiplied and intensified,” Proxy Design partner Mark Collins said in a press release. “We knew we were on to something when we couldn’t put the prototypes down.”
From mending shop tools to propping up models to general tinkering, designers are often in need of a means for quick DIY repairs. Sugru, makers of the eponymous self-setting high-performance rubber, has developed a round magnet that adheres to surfaces using the company’s trademark adhesive gunk. Sold as a kit with the adhesive, the magnet aims to allow users to more easily stick (and keep) 3D objects together.
Smartphone apps are the go-to resource for capturing colors spotted on the fly, but their mobile platforms often alter the color’s appearance. In final prototyping, Cube from Melbourne, Australia-based product designers SwatchMate uses a reflective sphere inside the tool to capture reflective color information and share it on mobile devices and in Adobe Photoshop. Users place the device atop an object containing the color they’d like to capture and press an integrated button to gather RGB, CMYK, and Lab color values. “Because conventional cameras—including your smartphone’s—change how they take images based on ambient light,” SwatchMate’s co-creator Djordje Dikic toldFast Company. “They aren’t very good at measuring surface color values. It’s kinda like timing a 100m sprint with an hourglass.” The Kickstarter-backed project was accepted into the business innovation accelerator at the University of Melbourne in early 2013. The Cube is now available for pre-order.
This Bluetooth-enabled stylus looks like a carpenter’s pencil and is designed to work like one. From design and software engineering studio Fifty Three, the Pencil stylus features sensors on each end of the device that signal whether to draw or erase. Advanced controls that prevent the interface from recognizing the hand as the stylus, that allow users to blend colors with their fingers, and that distinguish the stylus’s eraser from the pen tip only work with the firm’s Paper sketching app for the iPad, but Pencil can be used as an independent stylus on any touchscreen device. Available in graphite-brushed aluminum and walnut finishes.