We like how this Swedish based startup has made a digital pin that helps users express their individuality. Pins Collective exceeded their goal on IndieGoGo last month at over $100k raised–read on to find out why! We spoke with Olaf Sjöstedt, Pins Collective’s founder, who shared with us all about what they are creating.
Describe Pins Collective.
Pins Collective is a mix of a couple of things. At the core we re-shaped the classic round pin and took it into the 21st Century. Basically we used a round reflective LCD-screen, a Bluetooth component and glued a needle to it. We want people to be able to change those pop-art hearts they wear on their collars whenever they feel like it. With our pin they can use any kind of design, picture or gif and show it to the real world using our pin and app. To make this truly amazing we needed to add something more. So we developed the app further to do two things:
First of all we’ve made it possible for any user to create their own text, use patterns and colors in any way they wish. The user can also upload their own pictures or gifs to the app that they want to use on their pin.
Secondly we created a social section to it so people can share these designs with their friends and/or the rest of the community. Today people express belonging throughout social media with a few clicks. We wanted people to be able to move these expressions out into real life.
What was your inspiration behind creating Pins Collective?
I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making the global social communities present in the local physical space for a long time. I wrote my master thesis about it some four years before Zuckerberg started Facebook. Although at the time there wasn’t anything called social networks so I had to name it myself and came up with something like globally interconnected networks.
Since then, ideas, movements and expressions have become as global as the internet and social media have become every person’s property. Traveling, I’ve spent time with Berber teenagers in Morocco on the brink of Sahara and they used Facebook to circumvent traditional ways of meeting their first girlfriend. Or I was surfing in Indonesia seeing otherwise simple locals use social media to keep in touch with loved ones on another island. For each traveling experience I’ve had, it has enforced my obsession with the global and local take on social media.
One day when walking to my previous day job the idea of the digital pin popped into my head. For me that was the perfect way to let the creativeness that takes place in all social media channels move into the physical space. I quit my day job, took some time off; started my company, and got to work on our digital pin. A year later we have our first prototypes of the pin and app ready.
How do you differentiate yourself from existing/potential players in the wearable tech market?
We don’t measure a user’s heartbeat, we don’t track their position and we most definitely don’t count any calories. Our wearable is made to do one thing: enhance the wearer’s’ identity.
We aim at the streetwear crowd rather than the high fashion people and our target group is the young creative digital natives. It is not the wearable that is important, but rather what the user decides to show on it. And I think that’s what differs us from most wearables.
What was your greatest challenge when making your digital pin and what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
It’s a long process, taking place in a world I wasn’t experienced in. We’ve done a lot in a year but it would clearly have been simpler if I would have a background in the hardware industry.
A lesson learned is that the pin’s functionality isn’t obvious to everyone and sometimes one needs to be more explicit. People are not accustomed to outward facing screens and many people actually believe that we print physical pins and send them out via traditional mail. Because of this we have adjusted our communication.
Where can we buy your product, when is it available, and what is the cost?
What can we expect from Pins Collective in the future?
A lot of co-ops! We have already so many designers, companies and software developers that want to be a part of this. The thing we really love with this concept is that new people who see our product come up with their own take on how he or she would like to use it. We have no intention of steering this in a certain direction, as it is our user’s creativity that should decide our destiny!
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.