2013 Melbourne Design Awards

SwatchMate - The World’s Smartest Colour Detector [DRAFT]



Project Overview

SwatchMate is the world’s smartest colour detector, connecting wirelessly to your smartphone so that you can capture the colour of any surface with just one click.


Palette - SwatchMate


Djordje Dikic - Industrial Design
Rocky Liang - Hardware Integration
Paul Peng - Smartphone Integration (iOS & Android)

Project Brief

As designers, we recognised that using swatch books to match colour was inaccurate and wasted time. To solve this, we invented a new electronic tool that allows users to instantly scan any surface and digitally match its colour to paint libraries.

Being inspired by a beautiful colour is spontaneous and emotional, so we focused on radically simplifying the user experience to the essentials: see colour, capture colour. To use SwatchMate, you just place it on a colourful surface and the colour is wirelessly matched to the right paint on your smartphone via the SwatchMate app.

We worked hard to create a reference tool that enables people to throw out their crusty old swatch books. More than a tool, we also created a device that makes the colourful world around us more interactive and fun.

Project Need

We set out to create a smart colour detector that met the professional and creative needs of designers, decorators and renovators. To do it, we developed world-first product features:

Size matters - we kept SwatchMate small so you can pop it in your pocket and use it on the go, even when you don’t have your smartphone with you.

Easy output - SwatchMate can display raw colour values, as well as match to all paint brands and Pantone colours

Affordable - smart electronics mean a low cost product that consumes very little power, meaning a single watch battery will keep SwatchMate running for 6 months.

Instant - just turn it on, no calibration or other tech glitches

Bluetooth 4.0 - wirelessly connect to your smartphone or computer, with a range of SwatchMate apps tailored to your needs, including seamless integration with Adobe Creative Suite.

Smart design - The aluminium ring caps the cylindrical rubber base and is designed to be unscrewed, allowing easy battery replacement.

Design Challenge

As a tool, SwatchMate’s two-tone aesthetic of a rubber base and an aluminium cap was designed primarily to be functional to the end user.

Rubber was selected as the base material to prevent the device from slipping and to create a weight-bias toward the bottom of the device. Both of these features ensure that SwatchMate remains stable when sampling a surface for colour. Rubber additionally allowed us to use a single injection-mold in manufacturing by overmolding on top of inlayed electronics, keeping production and assembly costs down.

The aluminium ring that caps the rubber base is designed to allow users to unscrew it for easy battery replacement. It is pre-treated and cut into lengths from a single aluminium tube, before being CNCed with a counter thread so that it can be fastened to the rubber base. The aluminium ring gives the product a premium finish, without significantly increasing the cost.


The focus on sustainability was across three key areas:

Reducing paint wastage - by capturing the perfect colour every time, SwatchMate lets you buy the right paint, first time. No more wasting litres of sample paint before getting the perfect match.

Class-leading battery life - SwatchMate was designed to operate for 6 months of normal use on a single watch battery, exceeding industry norms for comparable smart devices.

Environmental design - SwatchMate contains no materials that are biologically or chemically hazardous to the environment and is fully ROHS compliant.

This award celebrates creativity and innoviation for either a product design concept or prototype - an early sample or model of a product that has not reached the manufacture stage nor available to the market.
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