The Mighty Pen

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penWho says there’s no place for pens in a modern world?

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City has announced plans to issue a stylus equipped withnear-field communication (NFC) technology to each of its visitors beginning this year. The Pen, as it’s called, has a sensor that reads information from NFC tags embedded in labels on pieces from the museum’s collection. As visitors tour the museum scanning their favorite design items, The Pen stores the data for retrieval at special interactive tables where visitors can access images of works in the galleries and sketch their own designs.

At the end of a visit, The Pen is returned and all the objects collected or designed by the visitor are accessible online through a unique web address printed on every admission ticket. These can be shared online and stored for later use in subsequent visits to the museum.

In creating the stylus, the museum sought ways to invite visitors to learn about design by designing themselves, rather than looking at design through the small screen of a more traditional smartphone app. The Pen is meant to encourage visitors to engage with the works on view in the museum.

To convert the concept for The Pen into a robust piece of consumer hardware, Cooper Hewitt worked with an international team, including GE, Spain-based Sistelnetworks and New York-based strategy and management consulting firm Undercurrent.

Cooper Hewitt reopened in December 2014 after a three-year renovation of its space, the grand Carnegie Mansion on New York City’s Museum Mile. It’s credited as the nation’s only museum devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.

 

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