Belgium's Of Instruments and Archetypes has developed a wooden caliper, measuring tape and protractor that wirelessly send measurements to a digital device.
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Complicated equipment — despite designers' best efforts — can't be replicated on a digital touchscreen without losing some of the ease of use that comes with a physical interface. In the past we've seen Tuna Knobs create physical dials that can be stuck onto the surface of a tablet and used to control music apps. Now a project called Of Instruments and Archetypes has developed a wooden caliper, measuring tape and protractor that wirelessly send measurements to a digital device.
Created by Belgium's Unfold, with help from the Netherlands' Kirschner3D and UK-based designer Penny Webb, each of the devices comes equipped with sensors and transmitters that interact with 3D printing software. Users can preload a digital file and each time a measurement is taken, the reading is sent to the device and the software automatically updates the file with new measurements. The instruments have no incremental markings as the user doesn't need to do any of the calculations. The idea is that makers can simply update their 3D files with accurate measurements without entering in any information, simply measuring up the relevant parts much like they would with standard equipment.
As an example, the project designed a part that could connect two glass vessels of any size. As the video below shows, by simply measuring two vessels, the design was automatically altered to fit perfectly.
Of Instruments and Archetypes went on show at the Keyshapes exhibition at this year's Dutch Design Week. Although currently a prototype, this kind of digitization of physical equipment is now becoming more possible thanks to sensors and the Internet of Things. Are there other complicated tools that could help industrial workers do their jobs more efficiently?