What if you could save any color you see?

That's the idea behind SwatchMate.

It's a cube that you press against any color you like. And it captures that color with better accuracy than your iPhone might.

This color information is saved so it can be easily imported into editing software of your choice.

The cube was designed with incredible simplicity: There's just one button. You press it down when you want to snag a color.

It even works on flowers and leaves.

The cube is on Kickstarter now.

And with any luck...

...we'll all be stealing our favorite colors soon!

Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new FastCompany.com?

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

SwatchMate Lets You Capture Any Color With A Click

Inspired by a colorful mural or fabric? This tiny gadget makes snagging it for later a cinch.

It’s happened to the best of us: We’re in a restaurant with stunning upholstery, or a coffee shop with vibrant paint. "That’s the color!" we think. And then we leave and forget about it, never to rekindle the magic of that particular shade again.

SwatchMate ($85), which just launched on Kickstarter, wants to break that cycle. It’s a small cube that fits in your hand and whenever you see an inspiring color—be it fabric, paint, or even organic materials like a flower or a leaf—you simply press the cube against the object to thieve its hue. The color is stored locally or beamed to a Bluetooth-connected smartphone to be duplicated in Photoshop or Illustrator later. (The saved file is a RGB, CMYK, or L*a*b* value to be used however you like.)

So why not use your smartphone’s camera for the same task, you might ask?

"Because regular cameras—including your smartphone’s—change how they take images based on ambient light," responds SwatchMate’s co-creator Djordje Dikic. "They aren’t very good at measuring surface color values. It’s kinda like timing a 100m sprint with an hourglass."

Instead of picking up a less-than-perfect reflection of color, SwatchMate shields your object in its own shadow, where an internal LED can fire a controlled, measurable burst of light in its direction. This light reflects into a sphere, which SwatchMate’s developers claim directs the color to an onboard sensor with more accuracy. Whether or not you understand the exact science at play, it’s easy to imagine SwatchMate besting an iPhone camera. Just consider how unreliable the exposure and white balance of the simplest photos can be—especially when you’re photographing something at close proximity.

But our favorite component of SwatchMate may be its dead-simple interaction. The case has an integrated button, so whenever you want to capture a color, all you do is place it on your subject and push. "Even our early prototypes included a push down button because it allowed the device to be used even when not paired to your smartphone," Dikic explains. "Now that I think about it, we really fussed over a simple button for quite a while!"

The SwatchMate is available for pre-order now for $85.

Order it here.

[Hat tip: Huh]

Add New Comment


  • 96Triumph

    Love the idea but there seems to be a couple of fairly major flaws. 1. Not being able to be very selective about what color you're scanning seem like a big draw back. The video and examples in the post above focused on larger fields of color for which the device seems perfect. I'd like finer control so, for example, I can narrow down to that perfect color on the corner of a leaf in a complex mural or a color detail in the pattern of a friends tie. 2. The other issue seems to be that while you view a color conditioned by whatever light conditions exist the cube completely changes those light conditions to capture the color. The color captured won't be what you saw and fell in love with under the imperfect light of the moment.

  • Djordje Dikic

    Heya 96Triumph! Just a couple of details that might help:
    The sample area is ~6mm in diameter, and the small square-ish design allows you to coordinate which color patch you want to grab, even if it's really small!
    The lighting one is a great question - the Cube has it's own light source so that it captures the underlying surface color, regardless of ambient light. When you then expose the captured color to the same ambient lighting conditions as when you first saw it, it will appear the same.
    Hope that helps!