Pin badges are a neat way to express yourself. My guitar straps are littered with badges of my favourite bands and the bag I’m using today proudly shows off several Björk album covers. Swedish company Pins Collective is taking this form of expression to the next level with the world’s first digital pin badge. It can display customisable still images and even animated GIFs. The badge and accompanying app lets you create new animations, wear them with pride, and share them with the world. We had a little play with very early prototype, which you can see here on the left and a mock-up of the final product on the right.
The prototype works but is far from resembling the final product because it’s still at an extremely early stage in development. The pin’s graphics are set using a smartphone app for iOS or Android that makes it really easy to create new designs and find popular ones shared by other users. You can use photos, add text, and add animated GIFs to show your favourite band, to support a cause, or just to make a statement. The product’s campaign just started on Kickstarter so it will be a while before the designs catalogue is filled with creative imagery but Pins Collective have a head start by signing up designers, illustrators, and street artists to provide content.
According to Olaf Sjöstedt, the Pins Collective founder, it was important to make a product that keeps the classic pin badge shape and design. “We wanted to create a wearable that was as far as possible from a tech product,” he said. “We want the wearer to define herself. It’s what the wearer uploads to the pin that’s important. It might be a logo, a funny gif or a pattern that goes really well with a certain jacket or sweatshirt. We wanted to make a great looking wearable but in the end it’s not the hardware nor Pins Collective that is supposed to be in focus – it is what the user chooses to upload.”
The badge should be viewable indoors and outdoors thanks to the semi-reflective and semi-backlit 3.4″ LCD screen. The badge can stay on for 75 hours displaying a still image but an animated GIF will only last 2.5 hours. That’s enough to make an impression at an event. Most users will likely use a still image most of the time but choose to show an animated GIF at opportune moments. The badge is charged with a micro USB cable.
I can see this pin badge being used to show off favourite sports teams; support causes during events; and pay homage to heroes and celebrities who have just died, allowing people to reach out to others and show respect. Various companies have already contacted Pins Collective hoping to team up and use the badge for a lot more than showing off your favourite designs. Heineken have suggested an app that lets wearers get a free drink at their events just by showing off their design at the bar. Healthcare providers are interested in using the badge to show the wearer’s vital signs and I can see this being a great tool for carers.
It’s really cool that we can express ourselves and customise our designs but in all honesty I just want to carry the Marlon Brando eye-roll GIF around with me.
The Kickstarter campaign started last week and is already halfway to its $75,000 target. The final product won’t be shipping until February 2017 so there’s still quite a wait. Some of the earlybird backing options are already gone but at the time of writing you can back the project for $59 (£41.52) plus £14.08 shipping and get the badge and app as a reward. Pay a little more and you can get some fancy silver and gold options too.
Main image © Pins Collective