Custom-designed HW for the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York


Sistelnetworks has participated in an international team to create a custom-designed hardware based on Sistelnetworks’s vWand for the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

The latest press release from Cooper Hewitt describes the collaborative project in which Sistelnetworks is involved alongside Cooper Hewitt, GE and Undercurrent.

Changing the Visitor Experience

Cooper Hewitt’s Pen has been developed to redefine today’s museum experience and the public’s engagement with design. Given to all Cooper Hewitt visitors as they enter the museum, the Pen will enable members of the public to “collect” objects, discover and explore information and ideas and become designers in their own right by creating their own digital drawings. Members of the public will also be able to record their visit using the Pen, view and share it online and supplement it during subsequent visits. A groundbreaking technology, the Pen as part of the museum experience gives all audiences a new way to learn, to experiment and to play designer.


The concept for the Pen was developed especially for Cooper Hewitt by Local Projects with Diller Scofidio + Renfro as a way to invite visitors to learn about design by designing themselves. Beyond working as a digital Pen for drawing, it encourages visitors to engage with the works on view in the museum, rather than looking at them through their mobile devices.

Turning a concept into custom-designed hardware has required an international team. Early prototypes of the Pen were based on Sistel Networks’s vWand, an inventory control device used in health care. GE and Sistel Networks, working alongside Cooper Hewitt and Undercurrent, turned sketches into working prototypes. Sistel changed the way the vWand’s electronics operated, and then GE’s industrial design team designed a sleeker form for museum use. This collaborative industrial design process mirrors how designers solve real-world problems and the process that many of the objects in the museum’s collection have undergone.