Parametric Tape Measure Reinvents The Traditional Tape Measure

The tape measure is an interesting tool that has received few if any accolades down through the decades. It is as much a part of the fashion landscape as the sewing machine or the modern runway. Its birth was an odd event, arising out of the  business acumen of a 19th century steel-maker named James Chesterman, whose company until the eary 1860s, was one of the major suppliers of the steel inserts that supported hoop skirts. As these skirts faded in popularity he found a different market for his formidable inventory of steel; namely, the creation of a new land survey tool he named the steel measuring tape.


Chesterman Measuring Tape: Source: ProgressIsFine.BlogspotChesterman Measuring Tape: Source: ProgressIsFine.Blogspot


Cameron Bowen and The Parametric Tape Measure

Down through time, this tape became an indispensable measuring tool that had undergone some but not many changes until a student taking the RCA Design Products course at the Royal College of Art named Cameron Bowen came up with a brilliant idea. He designed the Parametric Tape Measure, a tangible user-interface, while examining the ever-narrowing divide between fashion and technology. Currently on display at the RCA Graduate Exhibition in London this special tape measure is based on a series of mathematical equations in which coordinates of points are expressed in terms of independant parameters.


The Parametric Measuring Tape: Source: DezeenThe Parametric Measuring Tape: Source: Dezeen


How did the Parametric Tape Measure come to be?

It was important to Bowen that the 'measuring' relationship between tailor and customer remain unchanged but modernized to make the process quicker and more efficient. Although 3-D scanning techniques could effectively capture all the body measurements, Bowen believes that these hgh-tech methods threaten the essence of tailoring traditions because they do not allow the interaction between tailor and customer.

In Bowen's own words:

I took a trip to Paris and was measured for a pair of pants in the basement of a tailoring shop by two Iranian refugees. It was really weird but nice and one of the strangest things–the sort of moment that I wanted to capture in this project...I've created an interaction that allows tailors to take customers' measurements and simultaneously have those measurements translated as patterns in front of the customer."

How does the Parametric Tape Measure work?

Software is the key to the effetive operation of this special tape measure. Numbers are not written down. Instead, the device wirelessly sends the measurements to a type of computer program that transforms shapes into shifting numerical values. Litttle by little, this software constructs the shape of the pattern right in front of the customer. The Parametric Tape Measure relies heavily on its sensor to both count the rotations of tape and to then translate those numbers into distances.


Parametric Tape Measure At Work: Source: DezeenParametric Tape Measure At Work: Source: Dezeen


Mathematics in the form of an algorithm (step by step procedure for solving a problem involving repetition of the same basic operation) interprets these distances and with the help of a computer-aided design (CAD), draws the patterns on a screen while the tailor is at work.

The future of the Parametric Tape Measure

The rapport  between tailor and customer is threatened by various modern technologies that are focused on speed in the creation of garments rather than a sense of intimacy between creator and wearer. This special tape measure sanctifies the dialogue between customer and tailor while at the same time offering a faster and more efficent method of making customized garments.

Closing thoughts on tailoring garments:
A gentleman never talks about his tailor.~~ Nick Cave


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