Back in elementary school, four-color ballpoint pens were once the height of versatility. Red, blue, black and green in the one package? Witchcraft! Then came 10-color pens, which increased the color options but proved more than a handful for most. Now LA-based Cronzy Inc. is looking to broaden the all-in-one pen palette to more than 16 million colors with its Cronzy pen.
The prospect of an infinite-color pen has been raised – or teased – before by a startup called Scribble. Launched back in 2014, the pen's Kickstarter campaign promised the ability to produce more than 100,000 individual shades. Having been removed from Kickstarter for not meeting pitch guidelines, the project was moved to (and subsequently removed from) Tilt. Currently, it's up for preorder on the Scribble website, but details about a delivery date are vague at best.
Cronzy, should it see the light of day, essentially promises to do the same thing as Scribble. Having hooked up with the companion app, users are able to use a Photoshop-style color selector to fine-tune the perfect hue and send it to the pen, which then replicates it in ink.
As simple as that sounds, it's not always possible to perfectly recreate a shade using a color wheel. That's where the built-in scanner comes into play. Instead of trying to loosely match an old swatch with its modern equivalent, users can copy it with a wave of their magic wand (okay, pen), just like the Scribble promised. Frequently used colors can be saved in the app, and there's also an option to share a particular hue.
The colors are created within the pen, which mixes ink from five individual wells (cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white) up near the tip. At the moment, the team is still fine-tuning the mixing process using a miniature motor. Having switched colors, Cronzy says scribbling a few lines is enough to clean out the nib, so there's no cross-pollination ruining the purity of each hue.
When the ink wells run dry, it's simply a matter of slotting in a new one. The team says each individual well will cost around US$2, and provide enough ink for around 500 meters (1,640 ft) of writing. However, that figure will change based on which of the five nibs is attached, and white ink will cost slightly more.
Recharging of the inbuilt Li-Po battery is handled by a dock, and battery life is pegged at around seven hours. In order to hold that battery and the ink wells, the pen is quite a bit larger than a regular ballpoint, measuring in at 170 mm (6.7 in) high and 13.5 mm (0.53 in) in diameter. At 95 g (3.35 oz) it's also heavier, but anyone who wants access to such a wide range of colors is likely to be willing to forgive its girth.
At the moment Cronzy is seeking funding on Indiegogo, where it's raised US$11,800 of its $200,000 goal with two months remaining. Early birds can pledge $139 for a package including a pen, case, five interchangeable tips and two sets of ink cartridges. If all goes as promised, the product is expected to ship between March and May 2017.
A prototype Cronzy pen can be seen in action below.
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