Bonnie Cha

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Adobe to Launch Project Mighty Digital Pen for Creative Professionals, Instagram Generation

You may know Adobe as a creative software company, but soon, it will also be in the creative hardware business.

Today, Adobe announced that it plans to bring its Project Mighty cloud-connected pen and Project Napoleon digital ruler to the market in the first half of 2014. Both will be manufactured by Adonit, an Austin-based company that makes styli for the iPhone and iPad.

First introduced at the Adobe Max conference in May, Project Mighty is a digital stylus that works with the iPad and Adobe’s Creative Cloud, so you can carry and work on your drawings on multiple devices.

The Bluetooth-enabled pen is pressure sensitive, allowing you to draw lines of varying widths. And a button near the base of the pen brings up various tools, like different pencil tips and colors.

Meanwhile, Project Napoleon is a digital ruler that projects guidelines when placed on the screen, so you can can draw precise lines and edges for architectural projects and the like. In addition, Adobe developed two apps from the ground up for Napoleon: A drafting app called Project Parallel and Project Contour, which is similar to Adobe’s Kuler app but for shapes.

It’s all an interesting idea, and I had fun playing around with the devices when I visited Adobe last week. But why is the company getting into the hardware business?

Michael Gough, vice president of experience design at Adobe, said part of the reason is because the company realized that its core customers were changing.

“Our current base of professional creatives are changing dramatically. They’re mobile. They’re social. They use a hundred tools instead of one. They think of creativity as being this highly collaborative thing,” said Gough. “And we realized that we were going to have to pivot and make a lot of changes to make tools for them.”

Another reason was to go after a new group of customers, the “Instagram generation.”

“Digital technologies and digital experiences are enabling people to figure out that they’re creative,” said Gough. “And we need to be building tools and creating services that empower people to connect with their own creativity.”

Gough believes what will differentiate Adobe’s products from other digital pens out there — like those from Wacom — are its cloud connection, focus on casual use and tablet-specific design. Adobe is also exploring ways to make Projects Mighty and Napoleon more than just creative tools (i.e., productivity tools) and adding support for other platforms like Android. But for now, it’s focusing only on iOS.

Of course, pricing will also play a big role, but that hasn’t been set yet. Gough did say that in the short term it will focus on the higher-end creative professional so the price point will reflect that — in other words, expensive.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo