I don't know what excites me more: A pen with unlimited practical uses beyond being a pen (like grabbing change from your jeans' pocket) or a pen has raised more than half a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter. The Polar Pen created by industrial designer Andrew Gardner has now made more than $530,000 and counting. That's about 38 times the original goal of $14,000.
What makes it so special?
It comes in silver or 24K gold and it provides endless fun because it combines two things people love to play with: Pens and magnets. The pen contains no springs, threads or pins. It comes apart and snaps back together with that satisfying pull only a magnet can provide. It can be stored on any metal surface (of course), it can be rearranged into a spinning top (aka The Revolver), a drafting compass, a card holder, and probably a whole lot of other stuff yet to be discovered. It's modular so you can change the size, add new tips and new cartridges. You can also swap in a thin rubber tip that acts as a stylus for tablets.
Even though Gardner doesn't think of his pen as a toy, there's no doubt that the first thing most of us will do is take the thing apart and start doing tricks with the magnets. Just try watching this video below and not wanting one:
Gardner, a.k.a. Indiedesign in Waterloo, Canada, has always been into magnets...and pens. Apparently he had assumed this sort of pen had to be out there already, it seemed so obvious to him. When he discovered nothing like it existed, he knew he had to create one. This pen is designed from 12 neodymium magnets. Developed by General Motors in 1982, these are the most-widely used rare-earth magnet, and the strongest type of permanent magnet (e.g., resistant to demagnetization) ever made.
For those who take their pens more seriously than their magnets, Gardner promises that he designed this as a pen first. The compatible cartridges are the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and the Uni-ball Signo UM-151. I strongly prefer the Pilot but both are pretty good by my standards.
Of course, one might immediately think a magnet pen in our purse or pocket would spell doom to our credit cards and metrocards. Thankfully, Gardner reports that he has not found any issue with wiping out his credit cards or smartphone or flash storage in modern laptops, though he did have to replace his metrocard. And he does not recommend putting the pen close to any external, spinning hard drives.
Included in his Kickstarter page are a few "tutorials" demoing all the neat things that the pen can do—it's worth noting that Gardner "stumbled" upon many, if not most, of these tricks and he is hoping that you will come up with even more cool tricks and games for the pen.
If you want one, you'd better hurry; at press time there were just 13 days left to pledge.