What it does
Measure, click, record. Macaron can accurately store measured information in an quantitative format to an app on the paired mobile device. It eliminates the need to read the marking and record using pen and paper, improving inefficient measuring methods.
The beginning of Macaron is inspired by a blind student who could not renovate his house because he had difficulties seeing the marking on the tape measure. While people with lower vision or no vision need to rely on specialised measuring devices, it can still be tricky for those who have perfect eyesight to reading a tape measure if the marking is small to read. This fundamental issue stimulates us to develop a product to be usable and benefit all people. What if we can take measurement without needing to read the markings? Our aim is to create the most intuitive way of measuring and recording for everyone.
How it works
Macaron is paired to a specifically developed app on the mobile via bluetooth. An audio feedback confirms the devices are connected successfully. User can use the app to preset the object and distances to be measured. Voice input is also available for this setup. When taking the measurements, Macaron adapts a patent pending method that monitor the reel as the thread comes out and convert the reading into a quantitative measurement. The magnetic tips enables precise positioning of the tape measure for accurate round measurements, whereas the flip out tip pushes down and straighten the measuring thread for accurate linear measurements. The device provides an instant visual-audio feedback to confirm the measurements and the feedback updates when the length is adjusted. The measured values can be saved to the phone app by pressing a button. This will trigger a haptic feedback which is a vibration to let user knows that the measurements have been saved.
Our design questions inspired us to develop a tape measure that will not require user to read the marking to know the measurement. We then bought a few sensors and built a some working prototypes to solidify our core concept for a digital tape measure. Due to the difficulty to measure precisely with the spindle and technology, the product underwent more than 10 revisions before we were able to achieve the right accuracy and sensitivity. Through user-testing on the working prototype, we were able to identify problems to be fixed and add specific features that could enhance usability and interaction. Our initial priority was to resolve the functional and engineering mechanism with working prototypes. In parallel, we developed sketches and CAD model to refine the aesthetics, ergonomics, user interface and manufacturing. Through this continuous divergent and convergent thinking, we developed a number of iterations trying to achieve the best design outcome. We are currently refining the prototype to be distributed to a variety of users. We hope the testing will provide us further feedback on the ergonomics, usability, user experience, technology and stability for bringing the product into the market.
How it is different
There are a number of commercially available laser or metal tape measures which are designed for construction purposes. Macaron using a soft but durable thread with a spring loaded hook which allows user to measure just about anything, whether it is a piece of furniture or your waist. The smart soft tape measure will be a common household item that can be used by all, not limited to designer or tailor, sighted or visually impaired. When comparing our design to other smart soft tape measure available in the market, our design focuses on providing high level of accuracy. Features such as the magnetic tips for a precise measuring reference point, and the tip that pushes the thread down against flat surface for accurate measurements. Also, the instant audio feedback to confirm the measured values and the haptic feedback vibration are our unique design features to enhance interaction and user experience. It is also future proof through updatable firmware.
We are finalising the product from the previous user engagement to bring the product into the market. We are also conducting user testing on the supporting software in the attempt to optimise user experience. Our short term goal is to launch the product and distribute this year. We hope that Macaron can become the common and everyday household product that lead to a new way of measuring, recording, and thinking. Our long term goal is to use this inclusive product as a base to promote the approach towards universal design, so that we do not need specialised products for people with any kind of disabilities in the future.